2019-08-31 by W.M.
North Korea Says Hope of More U.S. Talks Is ‘Disappearing’
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Saturday that its expectations for more dialogue with the Trump administration were “gradually disappearing,” and threatened to reconsider its conciliatory gestures toward the United States, potentially including its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests.
The warning was contained in a statement issued by First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, which accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of blocking efforts to restart dialogue.
Ms. Choe was the second senior North Korean official in a week to attack Mr. Pompeo, this time over a speech on Tuesday in which he said the administration had “recognized North Korea’s rogue behavior could not be ignored.”
That remark “made the opening of the expected D.P.R.K.-U.S. working-level negotiations more difficult,” Ms. Choe said, using the abbreviation of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Our expectations of dialogue with the U.S. are gradually disappearing, and we are being pushed to re-examine all the measures we have taken so far.”
Ms. Choe did not elaborate. But in recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly warned that it might reverse the steps it took last year to facilitate the first summit meeting between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump, in Singapore.
Those steps included a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, as well as the partial destruction of the North’s underground nuclear test site and its rocket-engine test facilities.
But neither the Singapore meeting, in June last year, nor a second conference, in Vietnam in February, produced any concrete plan on how to end the North’s nuclear weapons program.
Mr. Trump has demanded that the North quickly and comprehensively dismantle its arsenal of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles, and their production facilities.
Mr. Kim has insisted on a phased rollback, offering to start by dismantling a nuclear-fuel center, but only if the United States would lift key international sanctions.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim met again in June on the inter-Korean border, and Mr. Trump later said they had agreed to reopen working-level negotiations in a few weeks. But that has not happened.
This month, Mr. Trump said he had received a letter from Mr. Kim promising to resume talks once a joint military drill between the United States and South Korea was over. The exercise ended on Aug. 20, but North Korea has continued to express displeasure toward the United States.
On Aug. 23, its foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, called Mr. Pompeo a “die-hard toxin of the U.S. diplomacy” after Mr. Pompeo said Washington would maintain strong sanctions until the North was denuclearized.
The next day, North Korea launched two short-range missiles from what it called a “newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher,” its seventh test of short-range ballistic missiles and other projectiles in a month.
Mr. Trump has cited North Korea’s halt of nuclear and long-range missile tests as one of his biggest achievements in diplomacy. He has shrugged off the North’s recent launches, calling them “smaller ones.”