North Korea has hit out at the US for urging that sanctions be maintained against Pyongyang, saying it is increasingly alarmed by US attitudes towards the country.
North’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Saturday despite “goodwill measures” taken by the North, Washington was “raising its voice louder for maintaining the sanctions against the DPRK.”
Ri made the remarks in an address to a security forum in Singapore, using the initials of the North’s official name.
He criticized “insistent moves manifested within the US to go back to the old, far from its leader’s intention” after President Donald Trump reached a general agreement on denuclearization last month.
“As long as the US does not show in practice its strong will to remove our concerns, there will be no case whereby we will move forward first unilaterally,” Ri said.
The vague commitment to “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” is a far cry from long-standing US demands for complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.
Ri said, “The DPRK stands firm in its determination and commitment for implementing the DPRK-US Joint Statement in a responsible and good-faith manner.”
“What is alarming however is the insistent moves manifested within the US to go back to the old, far from its leader’s intention,” he added.
Earlier US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged major powers attending the same forum, including China and Russia, to keep up sanctions pressure against the North.
UN: Weapons program continues
A UN report says North Korea continues its weapons programs despite its leader’s promise to denuclearize.
The six-month confidential report from independent experts monitoring Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities, cited by Reuters, said the North is still developing its weapons programs.
Pyongyang has “continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the report said.
This is not the first time that reports are suggesting Pyongyang is pressing ahead with its nuclear and missile activities since Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June.
The report came as Pompeo called for more diplomatic and economic pressures on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
“The work has begun. The process of achieving denuclearization of the (Korean) peninsula is one that I think we have all known would take some time,” Pompeo said on the sidelines of the ASEAN security forum in Singapore on Saturday.
“I’m optimistic that we will get this done in the timeline and the world will celebrate what the UN Security Council has demanded,” he added.
He is on a visit to the South Asian country to attend meetings of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is also attending the conferences.
Pompeo visited Pyongyang last month for inclusive talks aimed at agreeing a denuclearization roadmap, but North Korea accused his delegation of making “gangster-like” demands.
A senior US official said on Monday spy satellites had detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
The Washington Post also claimed that North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles at the research facility.
Kim and Trump met in Singapore in June, and announced a broad statement on working towards denuclearization.
Trump declared after the summit that North Korea was “no longer a Nuclear Threat” to the US, but Washington maintains sanctions on Pyongyang.