As President Trump headed home dealless from Vietnam following his aborted summit with Kim Jong Un, North Korean officials held an impromptu middle-of-the-night news conference at a Hanoi hotel, offering an account about the failed talks that differed from Trump’s.
“What we proposed was not the removal of all sanctions but the partial removal,” Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said through an interpreter in Hanoi. He said North Korea sought relief from five U.N. sanctions imposed in 2016 and 2017 that hurt the country’s economy, out of a total of 11, in exchange for disabling its main nuclear complex.
He said that in exchange for partial sanctions relief, North Korea was willing to “permanently and completely dismantle all the nuclear material production facilities in the Yongbyon area, including plutonium and uranium, in the presence of U.S. experts.” In addition, Ri said the North would also put a “permanent halt” on nuclear and long-range missile testing “in order to lower the concerns of the United States.”
“However, during the meeting, the United States insisted that we should take one more step besides the dismantlement of nuclear facilities in the Yongbyon area,” Ri said. “Therefore, it became crystal clear that the United States was not ready to accept our proposal.”
Ri did not specify what that extra step was.
Ri indicated that another meeting may well be fruitless as the North will not budge. “Our proposal will never be changed.”