SEOUL/TOKYO, (Reuters) – North Korea accused the United States on Saturday of making “gangster-like” demands in talks over its nuclear programme, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hours after he left saying the old enemies had made progress on key issues.
During a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo had sought to hammer out details on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programmes, including a timeline.
As he departed, he said he had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” although work remained to be done.
Hours later, Pyongyang gave a much more negative assessment, saying Washington had broken the spirit of last month’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
He said Pompeo’s delegation insisted on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, known as CVID. He argued instead for both sides to take a series of simultaneous steps as a “shortcut” to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
“The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearisation, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.”
There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the State Department or the White House. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programmes it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival.
Trump and Kim pledged at their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore to move toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Trump has declared on Twitter that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.
But Kim has yet to provide details of how or when North Korea might dismantle a weapons programme that Trump has vowed will not be allowed to threaten the United States. Also, leaked U.S. intelligence findings concluded North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear programme.
On Saturday, Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” in the latest talks discussing a denuclearisation timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.
Some U.S. experts on North Korea said the ongoing disputes show the risk of Washington granting premature concessions to Pyongyang. Many were surprised when Trump agreed at the summit in Singapore to end joint military exercises with South Korea.