US hell-bent on hostile acts despite wanting talks, says Pyongyang

It cites letter from Western states urging UN members to sanction North Korea over oil imports

UNITED NATIONS • North Korea's mission to the UN has accused the United States of being "more and more hell-bent on hostile acts" against Pyongyang, despite US President Donald Trump wanting talks between the two countries.

In a statement on Wednesday, the mission said it was responding to a US accusation that Pyongyang had breached a cap on refined petroleum imports and a letter that it said was sent last Saturday by the US, France, Germany and Britain to all United Nations member states urging them to implement sanctions against North Korea.

"What can't be overlooked is the fact that this joint letter game was carried out by the permanent mission of the US to the UN under instruction of the State Department, on the very same day when President Trump proposed the summit meeting," the statement said.

Mr Trump became the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea when he met the country's leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday in the Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas.

The pair then agreed to resume stalled talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

The North Korean UN mission said the June 29 letter to UN member states "speaks to the reality that the United States is practically more and more hell-bent on the hostile acts against the DPRK, though talking about the DPRK-US dialogue". North Korea is formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The UN Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in an attempt to deprive Pyongyang of funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. It has also banned North Korean exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capped its imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The US, backed by dozens of allies, told a council sanction committee last month that North Korea had breached an annual UN cap of 500,000 barrels imposed in December 2017, mainly through transfers between ships at sea.

Washington wanted the 15-member North Korea sanctions committee to demand an immediate halt to deliveries of refined petroleum to the country.

However, Pyongyang allies Russia and China delayed the move.

The letter from the US, Germany, Britain and France cited by the North's UN mission - and viewed by Reuters - was dated Thursday last week. It urges all UN member states to comply with Security Council sanctions requiring the repatriation of all North Korean workers by Dec 22 this year.

The North Korean UN mission on Wednesday said it was "quite ridiculous" for Washington to continue its sanctions and pressure campaign against Pyongyang and to consider sanctions as a "panacea for all problems".

Following Sunday's meeting between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a new round of denuclearisation talks would likely happen "sometime in July... probably in the next two or three weeks", and that North Korea's negotiators would be its foreign ministry diplomats.

The US and other UN Security Council members say there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts, while Russia and China have suggested the council discuss easing the measures.

"All UN member states will have to keep vigilance against deliberate attempts by the United States to undermine the peaceful atmosphere that has been created on the Korean Peninsula in no easy way," the North Korean statement said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'US hell-bent on hostile acts despite wanting talks, says Pyongyang'. Print Edition | Subscribe