SEOUL, June 12 (UPI) — Two years after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for a historic summit in Singapore, Pyongyang said Friday its relationship with Washington has “shifted into despair,” and warned that it was building up a “more reliable force to cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S.”
In a statement carried by state-run Korean Central News Agency, Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said the optimism generated by the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader was now gone after waiting two years for Trump to make good on his “empty promise.”
“What stands out is the hope for improved DPRK-U.S. relations — which was high in the air under the spotlight two years ago — has now been shifted into despair,” Ri said. “[E]ven a slim ray of optimism for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula has faded away into a dark nightmare.”
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
The summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018, produced a joint statement in which Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while Trump committed to providing security guarantees to North Korea.
The two sides also agreed to work together to establish new relations, build a lasting and stable peace regime on the peninsula and repatriate remains of American POW/MIAs killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Ri claimed in his statement Friday that Kim lived up to his end of the bargain with “epoch-making resolve” by taking steps that included a “total shutdown of the northern nuclear test site [and] repatriation of scores of American POW/MIA remains.”
North Korea shut down its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and demolished its tunnels ahead of the Kim-Trump summit in May 2018, although international inspectors were never allowed to verify whether the facility had been completely destroyed.
Ri added that the country “made a strategic determination whereby we took an initiative for suspending nuclear test and test launch of ICBMs in order to build confidence between the DPRK and the U.S.”
The foreign minister claimed that the United States did not live up to its end of the agreement and said that Trump merely used the North’s concessions as political talking points, which he “reeled off time and time again as a boast.”
“Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for achievements without receiving any returns,” Ri said. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.”
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea have been at a standstill since a second Trump-Kim summit, held last year in Hanoi, Vietnam, failed to produce an agreement on issues such as sanctions relief for the North and a timetable for proceeding with denuclearization.
After a 17-month hiatus, Pyongyang restarted tests of short-range missiles in the latter half of 2019. At the end of the year, Kim announced that there was no longer any reason for North Korea to be “unilaterally bound” to its commitment to halt nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and warned of a “new strategic weapon” coming soon.
Ri’s statement comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. On Tuesday, Pyongyang cut off all communications ties with Seoul after repeatedly expressing outrage over information leaflets sent over the border on balloons by defectors in South Korea.
On Thursday, a North Korean official warned the United States not to meddle in inter-Korean affairs and suggested that the communist state could interfere in November’s presidential election.
Ri said on Friday the United States has exacerbated friction on the Korean Peninsula through actions such as selling advanced stealth fighter jets to Seoul.
“As a result, the Korean Peninsula has now turned into the world’s most dangerous hotspot haunted uninterruptedly by the ghost of nuclear war,” he said.
“The secure strategic goal of the DPRK is to build up more reliable force to cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S.,” Ri added.