Pledge to denuclearise not due to US-led sanctions: Pyongyang

Photographs of a North Korean guard post released last Saturday showing it with (left) and without a propaganda loudspeaker installation.
Photographs of a North Korean guard post released last Saturday showing it with (above) and without a propaganda loudspeaker installation.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Photographs of a North Korean guard post released last Saturday showing it with (left) and without a propaganda loudspeaker installation.
Photographs of a North Korean guard post released last Saturday showing it with and without a propaganda loudspeaker installation.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • North Korea said yesterday its intention to denuclearise, unveiled at a historic inter-Korea summit, was not the result of US-led sanctions and pressure, warning the United States not to mislead public opinion.

Impoverished North Korea has been hit by a series of US-led international sanctions in recent years in a bid to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes.

On April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In vowed "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula in the first inter-Korea summit since 2007, but the declaration did not include concrete steps to reach that goal.

The North's official KCNA news agency said that Washington was "misleading public opinion" by claiming the denuclearisation pledge was the result of sanctions and other pressure.

The US should also not "deliberately provoke" the North by moving to deploy strategic assets in South Korea and raising human rights issues, KCNA said, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the strategic assets could be referring to the eight US F-22 stealth fighter jets sent to participate in joint annual military training between the two allies.

The KCNA report accused the US of "deliberately provoking" Pyongyang in an effort to undermine the current "atmosphere of dialogue". Describing Pyongyang's recent move as a "sign of weakness" would "not be conducive" to talks, and may "bring the situation back to square one", the spokesman was quoted as saying.

The North's official KCNA news agency said Washington was "misleading public opinion" by claiming the denuclearisation pledge was the result of sanctions and other pressure. The US should also not "deliberately provoke" the North by moving to deploy strategic assets in South Korea and raising human rights issues, KCNA said, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

The KCNA statement marks a rare criticism of Washington from the North in recent weeks, with the two countries preparing for an unprecedented summit between their leaders, reported Yonhap news agency.

US President Donald Trump has said he will maintain sanctions and pressure on the North and "not repeat the mistakes of past administrations". He has said his tough stance had led to the breakthrough.

In a separate KCNA report, North Korea gave credit to Mr Kim for the diplomatic breakthroughs, saying that his "boldness, patriotism and leadership" contributed to building the peace talks.

Mr Trump will meet Mr Moon in Washington on May 22.

The US leader said last Friday that a date and place have been set for his summit with Mr Kim, but official details have not been released.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo reported that the Trump-Kim meeting will most likely take place in the third week of June in Singapore.

Yonhap reported that Mr Mike Pompeo, the new US Secretary of State who met with Mr Kim over Easter weekend, ruled out a Trump-Kim meeting at Panmunjom, the border village on the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas.

Meanwhile, United Nations officials will be visiting North Korea this week to look into the country's request to open air routes between Pyongyang and South Korea's main gateway of Incheon.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'Pledge to denuclearise not due to US-led sanctions: Pyongyang'. Print Edition | Subscribe