As the United States and North Korea prepare for another round of high-level talks this week, Pyongyang’s increasingly heated rhetoric has analysts worried that the stalemate between the two sides could lead to a breakdown in negotiations.
An official with North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a veiled threat Friday, warning that Pyongyang could restart “building up nuclear forces” if the US does not ease the crippling sanctions levied on North Korea.
The comments come ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, in New York this week.
Experts like Adam Mount, a senior fellow and the director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, say, the North Korean position does not come as a total surprise — staking out hard-line positions in state media ahead of diplomatic meetings has long been a favored tactic in Pyongyang’s playbook. “It’s a clear play for leverage, it’s a clear play to set the agenda in the upcoming round of diplomacy, but there’s still a very real risk that it does seriously damage the negotiation process.”
Additionally, Kim Jong-un received Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel, who holds the title of “president” but remains subordinate to dictator Raúl Castro. Díaz-Canel received a hero’s welcome in North Korea on Sunday and Monday, enjoying a theater performance and street parade with Kim.