North Korea has said it will not relinquish its nuclear weapons until the US eliminates its own “nuclear threat,” according to a commentary published by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The proper definition of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is completely eliminating the American nuclear threat to North Korea before eliminating our nuclear capability,” the commentary says.
The US and North Korea are deadlocked in negotiations over how North Korea will denuclearize in return for the easing of sanctions. On June 12 in Singapore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed a vaguely worded pledge to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
However, in the six months since, talks have stalled and North Korean criticism of the US has sharpened, though Pyongyang has continued to heap praise on Trump. The commentary published Thursday suggests one obstacle in the negotiations could be US military assets based in South Korea and the protection of South Korea under the US nuclear umbrella.
“When talking about the Korean peninsula, it encompasses not only our republic’s territory but also South Korea where the American nuclear weapons and armed forces for invasion are spread out. When talking about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, [the US] needs to know that it means eliminating all nuclear threat factors,” the commentary says.
The statement also says the US push toward the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should include the removal of nuclear threats from “not only the North and the South, but from all neighboring areas.”