North Korea Slams "Extremely Troubling" US Attitude, Says "Resolve For Denuclearization" May Falter

In a worrying sign that Trump's progress to "normalize" relations with Kim Jong Un may be on the verge of collapse, North Korea lashed out at the US for its "extremely troubling" attitude just hours after it held the latest round of discussions with Mike Pompeo, warning that it its “firm, steadfast” resolve to give up its nuclear programs may falter. 

North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency said the result of talks with the delegation headed by the US Secretary of State was "regrettable", as a result of the US insisting on complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, which however should hardly come as a surprise at this stage in negotiations, after Kim explicitly agreed to just that four weeks ago.

In the statement released hours after Pompeo departed Tokyo after meeting with Kim Yong Chol, a senior aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman accused the US is trying to unilaterally pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons by insisting on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation (CVID), and said trust between countries is in a "dangerous stage", while adding that North Korea still trusts President Donald Trump.

The statement prompted an immediate response from the president's blue-checked twitter critics slamming Trump's summit with Kim.

Suggesting that something may have been lost in translation, and that a broad disagreement between the US and North Korea remains, as Pompeo departed Pyongyang he said he had made progress “on almost all of the central issues” in the talks, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, though more work remained to be done.

According to Reuters, Pompeo said that U.S. negotiators and their North Korean counterparts discussed the idea of Pyongyang making a full declaration of its weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and setting a timeline for giving them up. Pompeo added that he spent “a good deal of time” discussing a denuclearisation timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues,’’ Pompeo told reporters on the airport tarmac before leaving Pyongyang, following his third visit to North Korea. “We had productive, good-faith negotiations." - BBG

Pompeo also said that North Korea, in the “many hours of talks’’ at a walled-off guesthouse outside downtown Pyongyang, reiterated its commitment to denuclearization. The North Korean delegation was led by Kim Yong Chol, a senior aide to the country’s leader. Kim ended Pompeo’s visit on a positive note, telling the top U.S. diplomat just before he boarded his plane, “We will produce an outcome, results.

North Korea did not see things this way.

“We had anticipated the U.S. side would come with a constructive idea, thinking we would take something in return,” the North Korean spokesperson said.

“But through the high-level talks, the trust between the DPRK and the United States is facing a dangerous situation where our resolve for denuclearisation, which has been firm and steadfast, may falter.”

He added that the “fastest way” to achieve a nuclear-free Korean peninsula was through a phased approach under which both sides took steps at the same time, a position which is largely a non-starter for the Trump administration.

As a result of the unexpected divergence in views, Pompeo, who did not meet with Kim on this trip, could point to no concrete achievement from the talks aside from an agreement for the two sides to meet around July 12 in Panmunjom, the border village between the two Koreas, to discuss returning the remains of U.S. soldiers from the 1950-1953 Korean War, Bloomberg added.

Renewed tensions over North Korea's nuclear program emerged following recent intelligence reports showed that North Korea is continuing work at a key rocket-engine facility. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the U.S. has also stopped using the catchphrase of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization’’ of North Korea that it had insisted upon happening before North Korea gets any relief from a crippling sanctions regime.

That change raised suspicion that the U.S. was softening its demands for the country, an argument that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert had insisted on Friday wasn’t true.

Meanwhile, disagreements have emerged not only in discussions between the US and North Korea, but within Trump's administration itself: last week, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said North Korea could be expected to carry out the “bulk’’ of denuclearization within a year. Yet Pompeo himself had earlier said he envisioned that occurring in about two and a half years, by the end of Trump’s term, and Nauert later said the U.S. wasn’t putting a timeline on the process.

Pompeo’s visit was the highest level meeting between U.S. and North Korean officials since Trump and Kim Jong Un held their historic summit in Singapore on June 12. Pompeo has been under pressure to deliver a more concrete disarmament plan after the two leaders signed a vague 1-1/2 page document that didn’t provide a timetable for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

For now, any firm denuclearization plan will have to wait even as the risk that all progress achieved so far in bilateral negotiations collapses.

Why? Because recall that China was the real puppetmaster behind the Trump-Kim summit... and suddenly Beijing is not very happy with Trump (for obvious reasons), which means that China's response to Trump's trade war may emerge in the realm of diplomacy as Xi does everything he can to undo any/all progress achieved in talks between Trump and Kim, potentially sending relations between the US and North Korea back to square one.