North Korea condemns United States sanctions, warns denuclearization at risk

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, the North praised President Donald Trump for his efforts to improve relations with Pyongyang, but said the US State Department was "bent on bringing the DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of past year which was marked by exchanges of fire".

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has improved since the beginning of this year, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un engaging in a dialogue with the United States and South Korea.

In this photo, taken April 25, 2002, then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il claps from the balcony as soldiers salute him during a military parade, celebrating the foundation of the armed forces in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Virtually all homes and public offices in North Korea feature portraits of the elder Kims, who are also memorialized in countless statues, mosaics and cenotaphs around the country.

The statement by the policy research director of the Institute for American Studies of the foreign ministry accused the United States of "deliberate provocation" over the sanctions on the three officials. Instead, further sanctions could "block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever", it said.

US President Donald Trump played down hopes Friday for any imminent deal to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Analysts say the younger Kim's emergence on the global stage has been bolstered by his willingness over the past year to partake in peace talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and denuclearization talks with President Trump.

In a statement carried on the official state media, North Korea's foreign ministry denounced new U.S. sanctions, including the listing of one of Kim Jong-un's right-hand men.

Pyongyang has long said it needs the weapons to deter a possible US invasion, and has spent decades developing them, at a heavy cost in both resources and the imposition of multiple sets of UN, US, EU and other sanctions.

Sunday's developments came as North Korea marked the seventh anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il with visits to statues and vows of loyalty to his son and successor, Kim Jong-un.

The two sides have yet to reschedule working-level talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, which were canceled abruptly in November.

Trump's tweeted statement came in response, he said, to "many people" asking how the USA negotiations with North Korea were going.

  • Joey Payne