Economic sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until the country achieves “final, verified” denuclearization, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, stressing that Pyongyang’s rebuke of the demand as “gangster-like” was unfounded.
North Korea had expressed regret on Saturday over the attitude of US negotiators during talks between the country and Pompeo in Pyongyang last week to work out details on how to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula as agreed to by their leaders in their recent summit meeting.
In a statement issued by an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman and carried by the Korean Central News Agency, the North lashed out at the United States for seeking unilateral and forced denuclearization from Pyongyang.
“We expected that the US side would come with productive measures conducive to building trust in line with the spirit of the North-US summit and (we) considered providing something that would correspond to them,” the spokesman said.
“The US just came out with such unilateral and gangster-like denuclearization demands as CVID, declaration, and verification that go against the spirit of the North-US summit meeting,” he added, calling the talks “really disappointing.”
CVID stands for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North’s nuclear program, an oft-cited demand by Washington for Pyongyang.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reacting to the provocative statement from North Korea, said that if Washington’s demands were “gangster-like”, then the world is a gangster.
“If those requests were gangster-like then the world is a gangster because it was a unanimous decision at the UNSC about what needs to be achieved,” he added, referring to the United Nations Security Council’s crippling sanctions regime against the North.
Following his meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterpart Kang Kyung-wha and Taro Kono, Pompeo said while there was progress made on denuclearization, the US and its allies will continue to apply international sanctions until North Korea completely abandons its nuclear arsenal.
“Our three countries will continue to be vocal in reminding each country of its obligations to (enforce sanctions). While we are encouraged by the progress of these talks, progress alone does not justify the relaxation of the existing sanctions regime.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that the setback in talks between the United States and North Korea could be blamed on China. Speaking to Fox News, Graham said that the ongoing trade war between the US and China is the major reason for the pushback by Pyongyang.
According to Graham, China is using the north to force the US to negotiate on trade.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the Chinese pulling a North Koreans back,” Graham said.
“I see China’s hands all over this. We are in a fight with China. We buy $500 billion worth of goods from the Chinese. They buy $100 billion from us. They cheat and President Trump wants to change the economic relationship with China.
So, if I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We’ve got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade. We sell them $100 billion, they sell is $500 billion, we can hurt them more than they will hurt us. And all we’re looking for is for them to stop cheating when it comes to trade.”