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Top North envoy vows to retain ‘nuclear tech’

Aug 10,2018
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said his country supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula but will not surrender its nuclear technology because the United States may not abandon its enmity towards the regime, Iranian media reported Thursday.

Press TV did not elaborate on Ri’s remark, but mentioned that it came as the envoy was explaining Pyongyang’s latest negotiations with Washington to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Thursday in Tehran.

Ri arrived in Tehran Tuesday for an official visit at his request.
Larijani was quoted as warning Ri about the United States’ lack of commitment to international agreements, apparently referring to the
United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“The Americans speak very well during negotiations and promise a bright future,” Larijani said, “but in practice, they do not meet any of their obligations.”

It remains unclear what Ri precisely meant by “nuclear technology.” The phrase does not appear in the Panmunjom Declaration signed by the leaders of North and South Korea on April 27 or in the Sentosa agreement signed by the leaders of North Korea and the United States on June 12, though both say Pyongyang is committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has openly fumed about the state of negotiations with the United States, accusing the Donald Trump administration of failing to reciprocate the regime’s “good-faith manner” with an easing of sanctions or declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

On Thursday night, the North’s Foreign Ministry warned that the United States would be risking any progress in the Sentosa agreement, including denuclearization, if it fails to ditch its “outdated acting script.”

“One cannot expect any progress in the implementation of the DPRK-U.S. joint statement including the denuclearization,” read the English version of a statement issued by an unidentified spokesperson from the North’s Foreign Ministry, which was published in the Korean Central News Agency. DPRK is short for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The statement said there was “no guarantee that the hard-won atmosphere of stability on the Korean Peninsula will continue.”
The North pinned the blame on “some high-level officials within the U.S. administration,” without naming who they were, accusing them of “making baseless allegations against us and making desperate attempts” at intensifying sanctions and pressure.

Sparing criticism for Trump, Pyongyang described the White House chief as being intent on advancing North-U.S. relations.
Citing two unnamed U.S. officials, Reuters reported Thursday that the North appeared to view Trump as a softer touch. When talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials reached an impasse last month as Pompeo was visiting Pyongyang, the top envoy was asked if he would like to step outside to call Trump, according to the news service.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]