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US sanctions putting denuclearization at risk: North Korea


North Korea has denounced the administration of US President Donald Trump for stepping up sanctions and pressure on the nuclear-armed country, warning that disarming Pyongyang could be blocked forever.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the US Department of State was “bent on bringing the DPRK-US relations back to the status of last year, which was marked by exchanges of fire.”

The statement added, “If the US administration believed that heightened sanctions and pressure would force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons, it would count as (its) greatest miscalculation, and it will block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever – a result desired by no one.”

Washington has resorted to “sanctions measures for as many as eight times against the companies, individuals and ships of not only the DPRK but also Russia, China and other third countries…,” the statement included.

On Monday, the United States said it had introduced sanctions on three North Korean officials, including a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, for alleged human rights abuses.

North Korea has been involved in rigorous diplomacy with South Korea. Trump has also claimed that Washington’s diplomacy with Pyongyang has eliminated a purported threat posed by North Korea to the US national security.

In their June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim agreed to work toward denuclearization. But that agreement, made in a written document, was broadly worded.

Denuclearizing North Korea has made little progress in recent months.

The two sides have yet to reschedule working-level talks between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol. The talks were abruptly cancelled in November.

North Korea never said it would stop building weapons, including missiles that could or could not carry nuclear weapons.

Follow-up diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has borne little fruit. But South Korea has significantly advanced in its diplomatic engagement of its long-time rival North Korea.

Still, the North has taken several steps toward that goal. It has suspended missile and nuclear testing, demolished at least one nuclear test site, and agreed to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility and another nuclear testing site.

In return, Pyongyang is seeking relief from harsh international sanctions, mostly spearheaded by the United States, imposed on the country over its nuclear and missile programs. Washington, however, has not offered any such relief, hence the slowdown in further diplomacy.

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