US Complains of ‘Misreporting’ as North Korea Deems Sanctions Justify Its Nuclear Weapons

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressing reporters at the Department Press Briefing, at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, USA, 01 August 2017. Photo: State Department handout/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • US State Department has complained that Secretary Tillerson’s words on possible talks with North Korea have been misreported.
  • North Korea must take steps to denuclearize before talks with the US could happen, a spokeswoman has cautioned.
  • North Korea’s regime has declared the new US sanctions will never work against it.
  • They are said only to serve as a justification of North Korea’s further development of nuclear weapons.

The US will not hold talks with North Korea if the regime of its leader Kim Jong-un shows willingness to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, the US State Department has said, complaining of various media “misreporting” a statement by State Secretary Rex Tillerson.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson adopted a markedly conciliatory tone towards the regime of Kim Jong-un, assuring that the US sought no regime change in North Korea, and that it was not the communist country’s enemy.

Yet, the US, Japan, and South Korea have agreed that the latest developments in North Korea posed a “new-phase” security threat, while US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared their position in favor of a tougher response.

Last week, North Korea test-fired an improved intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a Hwasong-14, that could strike the US mainland, purportedly, as far east as Chicago.

That was the second missile alleged to be an ICBM to be tested by the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after on July 4, it carried out a ballistic missile test, and claimed that the rocket was the much coveted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea has also threatened that it would carry out a nuclear strike “at the heart of the United States” if the US attempts a regime change in Pyongyang, after recent hints to that end by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

North Korea’s latest missile test was its 13th (and tenth successful one) since US President Donald Trump assumed office in January.

A US nuclear expert has warned that Kim Jong-un might be coming closer to being able to produce a hydrogen bomb, also known as thermonuclear weapon, as it is able to produce tritium, a key element.

The US State Department has just announced a ban on all Americans from traveling to North Korea following the death of US college student Otto Warmbier who passed away in June 2017 after 17 months in North Korean captivity.

‘Misreporting’

The United States will not hold talks with North Korea unless the communist nation demonstrates a willingness to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, the US State Department said on Thursday, dismissing reports to the contrary as “misreporting,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

“I’ve seen a lot of misreporting in the news about some of the Secretary’s comments and what we will or would not be willing to do,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters at the daily press briefing.

“They need to take steps to show us – show the United States and the world, for that matter – that they are serious about their attempts to denuclearize. We have not seen that,” she emphasized.

Tillerson told reporters on Tuesday that the US would like to negotiate with North Korea but for that to happen the Pyongyang regime needed to understand that “there is no future” where North Korea would keep its nuclear weapons.

“North Korea has a long way to go. They know what they need to do. We’ve been clear on our expectations of that government,” Nauert said.

The spokeswoman also cited success in Washington’s efforts to stop foreign money from flowing into Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

In some cases, countries have prevented North Korea from opening diplomatic missions, while others have sent North Korean workers back, Nauert said. But she declined to name those countries for security reasons.

“We want to keep giving other countries the flexibility to be able to work with us in installing these types of programs,” she said.

Nuclear Program ‘Justification’

Meanwhile, on Thursday, North Korea slammed the United States for its latest sanctions on the communist regime, saying they justify the country’s development of nuclear weapons.

In an interview with the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry denounced the bill signed into law on Wednesday by US President Donald Trump, which also stipulates sanctions on Russia and Iran.

The new law sanctions those providing the North with crude oil and other products that help its nuclear and missile programs. They are among the first penalties to be imposed on Pyongyang following its two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.

It also prohibits North Korean ships and goods produced by North Korean forced labor from entering the US.

“The US adoption of sanctions law against the DPRK is no more than last-ditch efforts by those who are terrified at the series of measures taken by the DPRK in rapid succession to develop a sophisticated nuclear force,” said the unnamed spokesman, according to an English dispatch from the KCNA.

DPRK is an acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The spokesman accused the US of challenging the UN Charter and international law by applying its federal law to international relations.

“That is why the DPRK strongly condemns and rejects the so called unilateral sanctions by the US, and all other countries in the world also need to seriously ponder over the outrageous and unlawful act of the US,” he said.

“The sanctions campaign by the US might work on the other countries, but never with the DPRK. The U.S. sanctions provide further justification for the DPRK’s measures to intensify the development its nuclear force,” the spokesman added.

“The US had better deliberate on the ways to ensure its home security rather than waste its energy on the hopeless sanctions racket against the DPRK,” he concluded.

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