North Korea: Denuclearization off the table in US talks

Ambassador Kim Song said that the “sustained and substantial dialogue” sought by the US with Pyongyang was a trick

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Denuclearization is off the negotiating table with the US North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said Saturday in a strongly-worded statement that also criticised EU member nations for playing “the role of pet dog” to Washington.

Ambassador Kim Song said that the “sustained and substantial dialogue” sought by the US with Pyongyang was a trick done to suit its domestic political agenda, according the statement, which was first reported by Reuters.

“We do not need to have lengthy talks with the U.S. now and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table,” Kim said.

The envoy’s letter comes at a sensitive time in US-North Korea relations. Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct engine tests at a long-range rocket launch site to dial up pressure on President Donald Trump ahead of a year-end deadline it imposed to get a better deal from the U.S. in nuclear disarmament talks.

The U.S. has said it’s ready to engage in talks, but Saturday’s missive suggests Pyongyang is pulling away.

On Friday, the US indicated it was withholding its support from hosting a human rights debate on North Korea next week, in what was seen as an effort to avoid antagonising the North Koreans. US allies, including Germany, France, Belgium and the UK, have sought to hold such a meeting on December 10, but would need US backing to do so.

In his statement, Song referenced the December 4 joint statement from six EU member states regarding North Korea as “yet another serious provocation.” He also defended tests of Pyongyang’s “super-large” multiple rocket launcher in November as necessary for self-defence.

“These countries often take issue with our self-defensive measures,” Song wrote. “We have never ever recognised such ‘resolution’ aimed at obliterating our sovereignty and the right to existence.”

As tensions rise, the warm relationship between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- who’ve met three times since 2018 -- has shown signs of strain.

Trump has revived his “Rocket Man” nickname for Kim as well as the threat of military force against North Korea. A North Korean official has again used the term “dotard,” or mentally weak old person, for the US president.