SEOUL, Dec 16 (Reuters) - North Korea on Sunday condemned
the U.S. administration for stepping up sanctions and pressure
on the nuclear-armed country, warning of a return to “exchanges
of fire” and that disarming Pyongyang could be blocked forever.
The North’s stinging response came after the United States
said on Monday it had introduced sanctions on three North Korean
officials, including a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong
Un, for alleged human rights abuses.
Denuclearizing North Korea has made little progress since
Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Singapore in
June in a historic summit. 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.
While crediting Trump for his “willingness” to improve
relations with the North, also known as DPRK, Pyongyang accused
the U.S. State Department of being “bent on bringing the
DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of last year which was
marked by exchanges of fire.”
North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that
Washington had taken “sanctions measures for as many as eight
times against the companies, individuals and ships of not only
the DPRK but also Russia, China and other third countries...”
If the U.S. administration believed that heightened
sanctions and pressure would force Pyongyang to abandon its
nuclear weapons, “it will count as (its) greatest
miscalculation, and it will block the path to denuclearization
on the Korean peninsula forever - a result desired by no one,”
according to the statement.
The foreign ministry statement was released under the name
of the policy research director of the Institute for American
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Josh Smith; Editing by Mark