North Korea Denies U.S. Pressure Is Behind Denuclearization

May 6, 2018, 1:49 PM UTC

North Korea said U.S. sanctions aren’t the reason behind its willingness to remove nuclear weapons from peninsula, accusing its adversary of trying to ramp up tensions ahead of a summit between leaders of the countries.

The U.S. is misleading the public by saying its sanctions are working, KCNA said on Sunday. America isn’t being helpful if it continues to characterize North Korea’s steps as a sign of weakness, while pressuring and making military threats, the North’s state-run news agency said.

The warnings from North Korea are a reminder that it will seek to project an image of strength for domestic and overseas audiences, even as the country says it’s moving forward with rapprochement with the U.S. and South Korea. KCNA’s missive follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement on Friday that a date and place have been set for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While official details haven’t been released, South Korean newspapers have reported that the meeting will most likely take place in the third week of June in Singapore.

In a separate KCNA report, North Korea gave credit to Kim for the diplomatic breakthroughs, saying that his “boldness, patriotism and leadership” contributed to building the peace talks. North Korea warned that U.S. claims of forcing change on the country is a deliberate provocation that will pour “cold water onto the current atmosphere of dialog and reverse the situation to square one,” KCNA said.

The détente between the two Koreas culminated in Kim crossing the demarcation line separating the countries for a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In on April 27. In a statement that day, they said they would seek to formally end the war between them and pursue “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

Separately, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Mike Pompeo, the new U.S. Secretary of State who met with Kim more than a month ago, ruled out a Trump-Kim meeting at Panmunjom, the border village.

Trump is set to meet Moon in Washington on May 22, in advance of the planned historic summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.