North Korea is rapidly moving the goal posts for next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, saying the United States must stop insisting that the North “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear weapons program and stop talking about a Libya-style solution to the standoff.
The latest warning, delivered by former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan on Wednesday, fits Pyongyang’s well-established pattern of raising the stakes in negotiations by threatening to walk out if it doesn’t get its way.
This comes just hours after the North Korean regime cast doubt on the planned summit by protesting joint air force drills taking place in South Korea, saying they were ruining the diplomatic mood.
If the Trump administration approaches the summit “with sincerity” for improved relations, “it will receive a deserved response from us,” Kim Gye Gwan, now vice foreign minister, said in a statement carried Wednesday by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“However, if the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” he said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name. He also questioned the sequencing of denuclearization first, compensation second.
Analysts said they were not surprised by these latest developments in what has been a year of diplomatic whiplash.