North Korea late Friday threatened to resume its nuclear testing unless the United States lifted its sanctions, saying in a statement that the U.S. is behaving “arrogantly” in its dealings with the regime.
In a statement from the Foreign Ministry Friday evening, North Korea said it could restart its “pyongjin” policy of expanding its nuclear program while seeking economic growth, according to reports.
The threat marks the latest standstill in negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang as the U.S. seeks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un struck a warm rapport when they met in June and signed a vague peace agreement. Trump claimed at the time that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
But it’s not clear that much progress has been made since then.
In July, less than a month after the Singapore summit, North Korea lashed out after what they called “regrettable” talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying in a statement that the meeting had “amplified ... the distrust and war risk” between the two countries.
The diplomatic impasse appears to undercut Trump’s insistence that “great progress [is] being made” toward denuclearization.
Nevertheless, Trump has continued to tout his accomplishments in North Korea and to praise Kim — including in a bizarre campaign rally rant in September in which he told supporters that he “fell in love” with the dictator.
“I was really tough and so was he, and we went back and forth,” Trump said at a West Virginia campaign stop in September. “And then we fell in love, OK? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”
Trump has also repeatedly touted the fact that there has been no nuclear testing since the June summit as one of his primary foreign policy achievements.
Despite its threat to revive that nuclear program, North Korea has not backed away from the negotiating table, as the Washington Post noted on Saturday.
Pompeo has indicated that he will meet with North Korean leaders next week.