North Korea has thrown weeks of diplomatic progress into doubt by stating it has no interest in a summit with the US if it is based on “one-sided” demands to give up nuclear weapons.
The statement by Kim Kye Gwan on Wednesday came hours after the North abruptly cancelled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to do the same with a planned summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump on 12 June.
Kim Kye Gwan criticised recent comments by Trump’s top security adviser John Bolton and other US officials who have been talking about how the North should follow the “Libyan model” of nuclear disarmament and provide a “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement”.
He said: “We will appropriately respond to the Trump administration if it approaches the North Korea-US summit meeting with a truthful intent to improve relations.
“But we are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-US summit meeting.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday the United States would agree to lift sanctions on North Korea if it agreed to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
However, Kim Kye Gwan’s statement appeared to reject such an arrangement, saying North Korea would never give up its nuclear program in exchange for economic trade with the United States.
The doubt thrown over the Kim-Trump summit comes a week after Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, under which Tehran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.