After warning the US about the possibility of a return to the frosty relations of previous administrations, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is once again wheedling the Trump Administration by threatening to re-start the country's ICBM tests.
On Tuesday, a senior NK government official warned that the US had ignored his year-end deadline for nuclear talks. And because of this lack of progress, Kim no longer feels bound by his commitments, including his promise to halt nuclear testing and suspend its ICBM program.
Talks with North Korea stalled after last February's failed summit, and have apparently made little progress during the intervening months. Late last year, NK fired off several short-range missiles, unnerving its neighbors in South Korea and Japan, though President Trump quickly declared that the missile launches didn't violate North Korea's truce with the US.
"We found no reason to be unilaterally bound any longer by the commitment that the other party fails to honor," said Ju Yong Chol, a counselor at North Korea's mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Ju made these remarks during a UN-backed conference on disarmament.
To be sure, the talks with NK were likely doomed to fail from the beginning. Washington has insisted that no economic sanctions would be lifted until NK completes the disposal of its nuclear arsenal, while NK has demanded that the two sides agree to a schedule whereby sanctions would be gradually lifted in exchange for NK taking steps toward disarmament.
Speaking as the envoy from the DPRK, Ju accused the US of imposing "the most brutal and inhuman sanctions," before warning that "If the US persists in such hostile policy toward the DPRK there will never be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
"If the United States tries to enforce unilateral demands and persists in imposing sanctions, North Korea may be compelled to seek a new path," Ju added.
To be sure, this isn't the first time NK has threatened to walk away from the table.
It's worth noting that the renewal of North Korea's belligerent stance comes just one day after Kim appointed a new foreign minister to succeed Ri Yong Ho, a North Korean official who became one of the country's most recognizable figures by representing NK in talks with the US, and at the UN. In his place, Kim has installed a former defense commander with little diplomatic experience, once again spotlighting the regime's reliance on a small group of loyalists, while also potentially signalling a return to the country's belligerent attitude when it comes to its defense and nuclear programs, Reuters reports.
Fortunately, the US military has been keeping close tabs on North Korea. On Friday, the Pentagon's No. 2 general warned that NK was scrambling to build new missiles now that diplomatic efforts with the US have effectively collapsed.
So now both Iran and North Korea are rejecting prior promises to limit or end their enrichment of uranium.
Expect missiles to fly in the not-too-distant future. Fortunately, with so much else going on, we imagine markets will ignore the threat of nuclear war, just like they did last time around.