SEOUL – North Korea said Monday that “reckless remarks” by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear that Washington has no intention of resuming nuclear talks, and warned that it is now compelled to pay back “the pains the U.S. has imposed on our people.”
After a teleconference of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations last week, Pompeo told reporters the international community must remain united in urging North Korea to return to nuclear talks and in continuing to apply pressure on its nuclear and missile programs.
Pompeo’s remarks showed the U.S. has no strategy to stop “a countdown of confrontation,” North Korea said in a statement attributed to its new Foreign Ministry department director general in charge of negotiations with Washington.
The statement said Pompeo's comments “seriously impaired the signboard of dialogue put up by the U.S. president as a decoy to buy time and create the environment favorable for himself.” It referred to a recent personal letter that President Donald Trump sent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which North Korea said was aimed at maintaining good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement did not say what action North Korea would take. But it said it would be designed to repay the U.S. for suffering it has inflicted on North Korea, in an apparent reference to U.S.-led sanctions that the North says have stifled its economy.
In late December, Kim said he no longer felt obliged to maintain a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and that he would soon unveil “a new strategic weapon.”
In 2017, Kim’s torrid run of major weapons tests aimed at acquiring the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the mainland U.S. triggered fears of war on the Korean Peninsula. Kim later suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests before he began direct talks with Trump.
Diplomacy has been stalled since the breakdown of the second summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in early 2019. During that meeting, Trump rebuffed Kim’s calls for major sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament.
In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted a spate of missile and artillery test launches. All were short-range and didn’t pose a direct threat to the U.S.