North Korea abandons nuclear freeze pledge

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Geneva
North Korea said on Tuesday it was no longer bound by commitments to halt nuclear and missile testing, blaming the United States’ failure to meet a year-end deadline for nuclear talks and “brutal and inhumane” U.S. sanctions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set an end-December deadline for denuclearization talks with the United States and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said at the time the United States had opened channels of communication.
O’Brien said then he hoped Kim would follow through on denuclearization commitments he made at summits with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Ju Yong Chol, a counselor at North Korea’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva, said that over the past two years, his country had halted nuclear tests and test firing of inter-continental ballistic missiles “in order to build confidence with the United States”.
But the United States had responded by conducting dozens of joint military exercises with South Korea on the divided peninsula and by imposing sanctions, he said.
“As it became clear now that the U.S. remains unchanged in its ambition to block the development of the DPRK and stifle its political system, we found no reason to be unilaterally bound any longer by the commitment that the other party fails to honor,” Ju told the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament.
Speaking as the envoy from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea’s official name, Ju accused the United States of applying “the most brutal and inhumane sanctions”.
“If the U.S. persists in such hostile policy toward the DPRK there will never be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” he said.
“If the United States tries to enforce unilateral demands and persists in imposing sanctions, North Korea may be compelled to seek a new path.”
U.S. military commanders said any new path could include the testing of a long-range missile, which North Korea has suspended since 2017, along with nuclear warhead tests. —Reuters