North Korean state media called on the United States to immediately drop its sanctions against the communist country, accusing Washington of “acting opposite” to its plans of improving ties.
Pyongyang said it has shown good faith by stopping its nuclear tests and handing over the remains of American soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War last week.
“There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the US State Department that it won’t ease sanctions until a denuclearisation is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power,” the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial on Monday.
“How could the sanctions, which were a stick the US administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries’ amity?” it added.
Other North Korean outlets echoed the call, saying sanctions were a hurdle in the way of better relations between the two countries, which have officially been at war since an armistice was signed in 1953.
In June, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to improve ties between the two countries during an historic meeting in Singapore.
Verifiable and irreversible?
During that meeting, Kim signed up to a vague commitment of the “denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” – a far cry from long-standing US demands for complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.
In return, the US would not only stop despised military exercises with South Korea, but also ease sanctions.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted the “importance of maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea”, prompting Pyongyang to respond by saying the US was undermining the denuclearisation process.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said his country stood “firm in its determination and commitment” to implement the June deal. But he also criticised the US for undermining confidence in the process.
Monday’s call for the lifting of sanctions comes days after a United Nations report concluded North Korea has not stopped working on its nuclear missile programme.
According to the report, North Korea has also violated sanctions by clandestinely transferring weapons and fuel to Syria, Yemen, and other countries.
North Korea has been under sanctions since 2006 when the country carried out its first nuclear test.