Less than a week after President Donald Trump went knocking on North Korea’s door — meeting with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea — relations seem to be going sour again.
CNBC reported on Thursday that the North Korean mission to the United Nations accused the U.S. of being “more and more hell-bent hostile acts,” against Pyongyang.
“It is quite ridiculous for the United States to continue to behave obsessed with sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK, considering sanctions as a panacea for all problems,” read the statement, which was issued on Wednesday.
This was in response to demands made by the United States, which along with its European allies, called in a June 27 letter for tougher sanctions implementation on North Korea over its refusal to give up its nuclear weapons program. It requested that North Korean workers be repatriated in compliance with those sanctions.
Pyongyang held that the letter was sent in June on the same day that Trump met with Kim, and even briefly set foot on North Korean soil. The president spun this impromptu meeting as the start of a thaw between the United States and North Korea.
President Trump on Monday cheerfully tweeted that he had had a “great” meeting with Kim:
It was great being with Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea this weekend. We had a great meeting, he looked really well and very healthy – I look forward to seeing him again soon….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2019
But North Korea’s U.N. delegation does not seem to be at all swayed by the meeting.
“What can’t be overlooked is the fact that this joint letter game was carried out by the Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN under the instruction of the State Department, on the very same day when President Trump proposed for the summit meeting,” read North Korea’s statement to the United Nations.
The United States also in June told a U.N. Security Council sanction committee that Pyongyang was violating limits on fuel imports, and demanded that such fuel deliveries be halted, but China and Russia stalled the vote.
The Trump administration has engaged at times in an uneven campaign to negotiate the dismantling of the rogue state’s nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs.
President Trump went from threatening to “totally destroy” the country of some 22 million to describing his exchanges with Kim as “love letters.”
Two summits — one in Singapore in June 2018 and another in Hanoi in February — yielded nothing. The one in Hanoi, in fact, seemed to end early and acrimoniously, with President Trump refusing to lift any sanctions until North Korea carried out “complete denuclearization,” while Kim demanded a more reciprocal, step-by-step approach.
Since the breakdown of talks, North Korea has resumed building nuclear facilities and has carried out weapons tests.
Following Trump’s brief meeting with Kim, the New York Times reported that there was talk of the United States potentially accepting North Korea as a nuclear power, with the scope of a deal between Washington and Pyongyang focusing on limiting North Korea’s development of new weapons. That would be, in effect, more of a “freeze” than the “complete denuclearization” Trump claimed Kim had agreed to over a year ago.
National Security Advisor John Bolton — long known for his hawkish views on North Korea — immediately tweeted his response:
I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to “settle for a nuclear freeze by NK.” This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences. https://t.co/TTRPQkksza
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) July 1, 2019
It’s worth noting that President Trump, who is quick to call stories he does not agree with as “fake news,” did not tweet a response to this story.