A senior North Korean official warned Wednesday that Pyongyang will reconsider the upcoming summit talks with the U.S. if it comes under continued pressure to "unilaterally" abandon its nuclear program.
In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA), Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said the regime is not interested in any nuclear talks in which it is coerced and driven into giving up its nuclear arsenal.
The vice minister also criticized U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton's call for the Libyan model of denuclearization followed by compensation.
Denouncing the call as a reckless move that provokes a dialogue partner, Kim said it is foolish to compare the nuclear power of North Korea to Libya, which was in the early stages of its nuclear development.
The vice minister stressed the North has already expressed its willingness to denuclearize and said multiple times that the U.S. should stop its hostile policy as a precondition for denuclearization.
He said that the U.S. should guarantee the safety of the North Korean regime, and added that if the Trump administration comes out to the summit with sincerity, it will receive a “deserved response” from the North.
Pyongyang also cancelled high-level talks with South Korea just hours before they were to take place on Wednesday, citing ongoing military exercises between Seoul and Washington.
South Korea's presidential office has described the abrupt changes as a “pain to achieve better results in the long run” and promised to figure out North Korea’s clear intentions.
U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed Bolton’s comments on the North’s denuclearization. In a meeting at the White House on Thursday, Trump said that he is not pursuing the Libya model for dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons and would offer strong security guarantees in return for denuclearization.
The North Korean vice foreign minister’s remarks are viewed as expressing the North’s displeasure over U.S. remarks on economic compensation while there is no mention of a regime guarantee. Pyongyang appears to be in check of hardline forces within the U.S.
Some pundits say the North’s foreign ministry or military may be resistant to a “humiliating” denuclearization.
Kim Kye-gwan’s statement is likely aimed at slowing down the U.S.’ accelerating demands and boosting the North’s bargaining power.