UPDATE — 7/8, 11:29 a.m. EDT: Sec. Pompeo responded Sunday to accusations by North Korea that talks with America’s top diplomat were not productive due to unreasonable U.S. demands, citing the U.N.’s goal of denecularization.
“If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster,” Pompeo said. “We had detailed, substantive conversations about the next steps toward a fully verified and complete denuclearization.”
The future of a renewed relationship between the U.S. and North Korea appeared bleak after two days of talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials ended with Pyongyang declaring the discussions “regrettable” and risking war.
Mr. Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang Friday for meetings with Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and North Korean apparatchiks.
Despite meeting North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on two previous visits to the North Korean capital, Sec. Pompeo did not meet Mr. Kim either Friday or Saturday.
Accounts over North Korea talks conflict, with Mr. Pompeo emerging from meetings on Saturday saying: “These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues.”
In sharp contrast, a statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued through state media arm KCNA described the U.S. demands to unilaterally denuclearize as a “gangster-like.”
“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting” has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm,” DPKR Foreign Ministry’s press release read.
A North Korean spokesman later said the U.S. demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement”, the oft-used demand for the North to dismantle its nuclear program, was unreasonable.
According to the North Korean official, Pyongyang prefers a gradual “phased” and “synchronous” break down of its nuclear stockpile.
Despite Pyongyang’s blunt talk, the statement did offer hints North Korea remains interested in conversation with Washington to reduce tensions, normalize relations and work toward denuclearization.
The spokesman added DPRK has “faith in President Trump” and Pyongyang has a “firm, steadfast” resolve to solve the seemingly intractable nuclear dilemma on the peninsula.
The two-day meeting follows a string of reports pointing to North Korea proceeding with the development of a nuclear-capable submarine and the expansion of the Yongbyon nuclear research site.
According to satellite imagery analysis by 38 North, Pyongyang is nearing completion of upgrades to its plutonium cooling system at the test site, a violation to the agreement Trump and Kim negotiated in Singapore in June.
[AP] [NBC News] [NK News] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via NME]