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North Korea Blames US for Stalled Denuclearization Talks

Kim Song, chair of the delegation of North Korea, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 30, 2019.
Kim Song, chair of the delegation of North Korea, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 30, 2019.

North Korea said Monday that tensions remain high with the United States and little has been achieved diplomatically, a year after the historic summit between the adversaries.

“Relations between the DPRK and the U.S. have made little progress so far and the situation of the Korean Peninsula has not come out of the vicious cycle of increased tension,” North Korean U.N. Ambassador Kim Song told the final day of the U.N. General Assembly annual debate.

“We expressed our willingness to sit with the U.S. for [a] comprehensive discussion of the issues we have deliberated so far,” Kim said of resuming bilateral talks.

Kim blamed American “political and military provocations” for the stalled talks and urged Washington to find a new approach.

Despite what U.S. President Donald Trump says is a positive personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, his administration has maintained a policy of “maximum pressure” on North Korea, supporting tough international economic sanctions until Pyongyang makes progress toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down after a second summit in February between Kim and Trump ended without a deal. Kim demanded a relaxation of sanctions in exchange for partial steps to dismantle his nuclear program. Trump wanted a more far-reaching deal.

North Korea has conducted 10 rounds of short-range missile tests since early May. Trump has shrugged off the tests, saying he has no problem with short-range launches. Many within range of the short-range missiles do not share that assessment.

During his speech last week to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump only briefly touched on North Korea, saying it is a country “full of tremendous untapped potential, but that to realize that promise, North Korea must denuclearize.”

His former national security advisor, John Bolton, said Monday that North Korea “has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons,” and that “the strategic decision Kim Jong Un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further.”

Bolton, who was fired by Trump earlier in September due to policy differences, was speaking to an audience at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

On Monday, North Korea’s envoy put the weight of diplomacy on the United States.

“It depends on the U.S., whether the DPRK-U.S. negotiation will become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis,” the envoy said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.

He also criticized South Korea for what he said was “double-dealing behavior," shaking hands in public but behind the scenes introducing new sophisticated weapons and holding joint military exercises with the United States.

The envoy said intra-Korean relations would only improve when Seoul ends its “big power worship” and policy of dependence on foreign forces.

The United States has maintained some 28,000 troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War.