The Foreign Ministry of North Korea warned the U.S. earlier this week to continue progress in the reconciliation effort.
The statement from Pyongyang warned the American government that soon it would be “too late” to pursue negotiations with North Korea. The statement carried by state outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said “the fate of the 12 June DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement will not be promising if the U.S. fails to carry out its obligation and keeps resorting to anti-DPRK hostile policy.” The statement concluded by urging Washington to consider the “correct strategic choice before it is too late.”
Of course the “hostile policies” Pyongyang is referring to consist of the relentless blueprint of sanctions being meted out by the Trump administration. While the U.S. has been strongly pushing for sustained talks for over a year, this hasn’t lead to any substantial loosening of the sanctions keeping the North Korean economy in shambles. Last month, the United States took the extreme step of impounding a North Korean ship involved with sanction violations. Officials in Pyongyang responded by claiming that the act “violated the spirit” of the Singapore Summit held last year between the two countries.
North Korea is, and has been for months, attempting to shift the burden of action onto the U.S., pushing a narrative that the ball is in America’s court. While the U.S. has made some substantial gestures to North Korea, such as cancelling annual maneuvers it holds with South Korea, the only thing DPRK really cares about is sanction relief. Trump’s administration, however, has been adamant that reversal on sanctions will only be in response to substantial steps in North Korea’s de-nuclearization. For now, the deadlock seams like it will continue.