North Korea has warned the United States it will “seriously” consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons if Washington does not end tough economic sanctions against the impoverished regime.
In a statement issued by the North’s foreign ministry Saturday, Pyongyang said it could revert to its former policy if the US did not change its stance over sanctions.
At a historic summit in Singapore in June, US President Donald Trump and Kim signed a vaguely-worded statement on denuclearization.
But little progress has been made since then, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions against the North until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation” and Pyongyang condemning US demands as “gangster-like”.
“The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible,” said the statement, released under the name of the director of the foreign ministry’s Institute for American Studies.
“What remains to be done is the US corresponding reply,” it added.
For years, the North had pursued a ‘byungjin’ policy of simultaneously developing its nuclear capabilities alongside the economy.
In April, citing a “fresh climate of detente and peace” on the peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the nuclear quest complete and said his country would focus on “socialist economic construction”.
But the statement is the latest sign of Pyongyang’s increasing frustration with Washington.
Last month, the North’s state media carried a near 1,700 words long commentary accusing the US of playing a “double game”, implicitly criticising Trump for his comments aimed at barring Seoul from lifting sanctions against Pyongyang.