North Korea threatens to cancel Trump summit over US nuke demands

North Korea has threatened to abandon planned talks between leader Kim Jong U...

Posted: May 16, 2018 12:41 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 12:41 PM

North Korea has threatened to abandon planned talks between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in June if Washington insists on pushing it "into a corner" on nuclear disarmament.

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear program.

Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted in the article as saying the US said "it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon (nuclear weapons)."

"We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not... make such a deal in future," he added.

If the Trump administration was "genuinely committed" to improving ties with Pyongyang, "they will receive a deserving response," Kim Kye Gwan said. "But if they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider ... the upcoming summit."

Pyongyang's rhetoric is similar to Trump's own: he said in April that even once parties are at the negotiating table, if talks aren't going the right way, "I will respectfully leave the meeting."

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early Wednesday morning Seoul time, according to a statement, which quoted Pompeo as saying preparations would continue for the Trump-Kim summit, "keeping in mind this action of the North."

"Minister Kang and Secretary Pompeo agreed to continue close cooperation between South Korea and the United States to achieve a complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula," the South Korean statement said.

Yoon Young-chan, a senior spokesman for President Moon Jae-in, said the South Korean government sees the current impasse as a "growing pain in the process."

Adam Mount, a Korea expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said Pyongyang was seeking "to revise the terms of negotiations, not to end them altogether."

"The United States is faced with a critical choice: will it pursue a deal with North Korea that improves US and allied security but falls short of immediate denuclearization? Or will it walk away with nothing?" he added.

Not following the Libya model

The statement referenced comments made by Trump's national security adviser John Bolton about Libya being a potential model for North Korean denuclearization.

In December 2003, after months of negotiations with the US, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. Eight years later, after Washington soured on Gadhafi, NATO forces helped overthrow him, and he was later cornered by rebels who beat and abused him before summarily shooting him in the head.

Pyongyang has referenced multiple times in the past its perceived need for a strong nuclear deterrent is based on US military aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Bolton's comments, Kim said, were indicative of "an awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers."

"It is absolutely absurd to dare compare (North Korea), a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development," he added. "(The) world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate."

Singling out the national security adviser for personal criticism, Kim said that North Korea had "shed light on the quality of (John) Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him."

Some analysts suggested that by focusing its statement so much on Bolton, rather than Trump, North Korea could be hoping to pressure the US President into sidelining his national security adviser.

Trump has talked up his achievements with North Korea, even encouraging crowds to chant "Nobel! Nobel!" at rallies.

Inter-Korean talks suspended

After weeks of improving ties on the Korean Peninsula, capped by the dramatic image of Kim shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, things took a sudden step backwards Wednesday.

In a missive delivered to the South in the early hours of the morning, the North said it was suspending high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday in view of "provocative military disturbances with South Korea."

North Korea's anger, which took both Seoul and Washington off guard, came as the two allies were conducting annual "Max Thunder" air force drills, which Pyongyang has always objected to in the past and accused of destabilizing the situation on the Peninsula.

In a statement, South Korea's Unification Ministry said it was regrettable that the North unilaterally postponed the talks due to the annual (South Korea-US) joint air combat drills."

An earlier KCNA report said the Max Thunder 2018 air combat drill was against the declaration -- signed last month between the Koreas -- wherein they agreed to cease all hostile acts against each other.

Back in March, when South Korea's national security adviser told reporters at the White House that Kim had invited Trump to meet, he also said that Kim "understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue."

'Not a cakewalk'

While Wednesday's statements were a noted departure from the conciliatory language North Korea had been using recently, analysts said Pyongyang is unlikely to abandon the Trump-Kim summit, when it has been trying to get a seat at the table with Washington for so long.

Experts said Pyongyang was likely annoyed by statements from both Washington and Seoul which painted North Korea as the weaker partner in negotiations, responding to US pressure rather than being treated as an equal nuclear power.

"Kim wants a summit, but I think the North Koreans are bent out of shape by Trump Administration officials claiming pressure brought them to the table," said Jeffrey Lewis, a non proliferation expert at the US-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Christine Ahn, co-founder of Women Cross DMZ, which promotes peace building initiatives, pointed out North Korea has "made significant concessions" in the run up to the Trump-Kim summit.

"They suspended their ICBM and nuclear testing, they closed the nuclear testing site, and they just released three detained Americans," she said. "I wouldn't say that the Singapore meeting is off the table, but perhaps time for the US to change its tone."

CNN Beijing bureau chief Tim Schwarz, who has visited North Korea multiple times, said the "suggestion from the Trump administration that North Korea can be bought is also something that infuriates Pyongyang."

"North Korea would never admit that economic pressure has forced it to consider giving up its nukes. Its whole self identity is built on self-reliance," he added.

"North Korea has been extremely restrained in its public announcements since agreeing to the South Korea and the US summits. Now it appears to be annoyed that it is being seen as soft ahead of the main event in Singapore in June and this could be seen as reminding people that it is no walkover."

Other analysts agreed. Oliver Hotham, managing editor of Korea Risk, said there was "bound to be some push-back from the North Koreans eventually."

"The Trump admin has been acting like denuclearisation is a done deal, talking about economic incentives and shipping North Korean nuke hardware out of the country," he said. "Now the North Koreans are making it clear this is not going to be a cakewalk and they can play tough too."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76522

Reported Deaths: 3086
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16194731
Lake7742281
Elkhart495586
Allen4040163
St. Joseph361083
Hamilton2887104
Vanderburgh205313
Hendricks1943108
Cass18069
Johnson1794119
Porter136239
Clark130750
Tippecanoe124511
Madison103066
LaPorte93530
Howard92065
Kosciusko87212
Floyd82249
Bartholomew82147
Marshall79423
Monroe76732
Delaware76052
Vigo71411
Dubois71312
Boone69746
Noble69029
Hancock68839
Jackson5975
Warrick58830
Shelby56828
LaGrange56610
Grant53130
Dearborn51628
Morgan48934
Clinton4504
Henry41820
Wayne38810
White37711
Montgomery36021
Lawrence35727
Harrison35224
Decatur34232
Putnam3218
Daviess27920
Miami2772
Scott27310
Jasper2572
Greene25434
Franklin24715
DeKalb2384
Gibson2334
Jennings22812
Steuben2153
Ripley2138
Carroll2003
Fayette1957
Perry18713
Posey1800
Starke1807
Orange17824
Wells1782
Fulton1732
Wabash1715
Jefferson1662
Knox1640
Whitley1566
Tipton14912
Washington1441
Sullivan1411
Spencer1393
Clay1315
Huntington1273
Randolph1274
Newton12110
Adams1172
Owen1051
Jay920
Rush894
Pulaski821
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike620
Vermillion590
Parke551
Switzerland530
Martin500
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0208

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 104248

Reported Deaths: 3734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18965531
Cuyahoga13869512
Hamilton9844259
Lucas5512326
Montgomery448998
Summit3667224
Butler303364
Marion294245
Mahoning2623256
Pickaway240042
Stark1904142
Warren185039
Lorain183177
Columbiana168360
Trumbull1563110
Fairfield143232
Delaware136519
Licking134551
Clark121315
Lake114642
Wood109058
Clermont96211
Medina95936
Miami86839
Tuscarawas79714
Allen79446
Portage77664
Greene73012
Mercer64113
Belmont62726
Richland61912
Erie61028
Ashtabula57746
Geauga56144
Wayne55459
Ross5094
Madison50310
Darke41429
Huron4115
Ottawa40426
Sandusky39917
Hancock3973
Athens3612
Holmes3316
Lawrence3180
Auglaize2756
Union2731
Scioto2591
Muskingum2481
Jefferson2403
Seneca2344
Shelby2154
Knox2147
Preble2122
Putnam21217
Washington21122
Coshocton1967
Champaign1882
Morrow1792
Crawford1775
Hardin17512
Clinton1716
Highland1692
Logan1672
Ashland1553
Fulton1551
Defiance1544
Wyandot1519
Brown1502
Perry1483
Williams1373
Fayette1240
Henry1222
Hocking1229
Guernsey1197
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike800
Jackson770
Gallia741
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Adams642
Meigs580
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Angola
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 83°
Decatur
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Storm Chances Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events