North Korea 'reconsidering' summit with US

North Korea says it may abandon the planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump if the US "pushes North Korea to unilateral denuclearization."

Posted: May 16, 2018 6:34 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 6:34 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.

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 20°
Angola
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 20°
Lima
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
More Clouds than Sun Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events