North Korea has responded to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's latest visit to the nuclear-armed country, describing American attempts to get the country to denuclearize as "regrettable," "gangster-like" and "cancerous" in a statement released by Korea Central News Agency on Saturday.
The state-run news agency said the United States pressed "the same cancerous" issues that have been brought up in past meetings and that pressure from the U.S. to give up its nuclear weapons was a breach of the agreement signed by the two nations in Singapore last month.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismisses North Korea's accusation of a "gangster-like mindset" in denuclearization… https://t.co/NHVXoo7xDb— CNN Politics (@CNN Politics) 1531142164.0
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning he has "confidence" Kim Jong Un "will honor the contract" and "even more importantly, our handshake," although no specific details on denuclearization were agreed upon and the agreement the two leaders signed was not binding.
Trump also suggested that China may be "exerting negative pressure" on North Korea in response to the budding trade war he started by imposing tariffs on imported Chinese goods.
"We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea."
I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We ag… https://t.co/elx3PlmqT9— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1531146306.0
“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” the statement said. “The issues the U.S. side insisted on during the talks were the same cancerous ones that the past U.S. administrations had insisted on."
Brutal description of Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, with a great kicker. https://t.co/R2I5VWfQBH— Daniel W. Drezner (@Daniel W. Drezner) 1531079147.0
Pompeo did not meet with leader Kim Jong Un during his three-day visit last week. KCNA said that even though Kim still believes in Trump's desire to negotiate, Pompeo's visit pushed tensions to a “dangerous” stage that could “rattle our willingness for denuclearization.”
On Sunday, Pompeo dismissed the North Korean's characterizations of his trip, telling Japanese and South Korean officials that his talks with North Korean leadership had been productive. Pompeo insisted that North Korea has maintained their commitment to work toward denuclearization, including an eventual surrender of its nuclear weapons.
Proving once again that only fools rush in, Trump forced a summit for cheap headlines. In the process, he gave legi… https://t.co/DpWiqWUfmH— Joe Scarborough (@Joe Scarborough) 1531008565.0
"We had detailed, substantive conversations about the next steps toward a fully verified and complete denuclearization," he said. "People are going to make stray comments after meetings. If I paid attention to what the press said, I'd go nuts. I am determined to achieve the commitment that President Trump made, and I'm counting on chairman Kim to be determined to follow through on the commitment that he made."
There will be a verification connected to the complete denuclearization, that's what President Trump and Chairman Kim both agreed to.
Pompeo pushes back on North Korea criticism: "If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster"… https://t.co/a8V8q3wYFe— The Hill (@The Hill) 1531113065.0
Pompeo added on Sunday night that "President Trump believes your country can replicate this path -- it's yours if you'll seize the moment. The miracle can be yours," citing Vietnam's "incredible rise" in recent decades as a result of sustaining a relationship with the United States.
"If they are able to do this, they will be remembered, and Chairman Kim will be remembered as a hero of the Korean people," Pompeo added.
“They’re upping the ante for what they want, and downplaying what we want,” Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor who has negotiated with North Korea, said on Sunday. This is typical. They’re very skilled at sending messages. And their message is that this negotiation is not going to be easy. And it’s going to be very costly. So you’d better be prepared to deliver.”
A few weeks ago, Trump declared there was no more threat from NK. Today, North Korea described interactions with Se… https://t.co/W4fXlvnExL— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman) 1530974789.0
But not all analysts agree. Evans Revere, a former U.S. diplomat who has also dealt with North Korea, said KCNA's statement meant the talks didn't go well.
“Pompeo appears to have presented the North Koreans with some demands and requirements for real moves toward denuclearization, as opposed to the symbolic steps and empty language Pyongyang has been using so far. He deserves credit for doing so,” Revere wrote in an email.
So, @realDonaldTrump -- aces with your "great" negotiation with North Korea that gave up critical military exercise… https://t.co/yvDZib3EDM— Robert Elisberg (@Robert Elisberg) 1531108799.0
“But in doing so, he has elicited North Korean ire, and he has now seen the reality of North Korea’s game plan and intentions that many of us have been describing for some time,” Revere added. “Welcome to our world, Mr. Secretary.”
One of the more stringent challenges in negotiating with North Korea is that neither side has the same definition of what denuclearization means. For the United States and its allies, nothing short of North Korea declaring, dismantling, an abandoning its nuclear weapons would be satisfactory. Speculation continues to swirl around what denuclearization means to the North Koreans.