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North Korea: We Won’t Denuclearize Until America Removes Threat to Us First

North Korea: We Won’t Denuclearize Until America Removes Threat to Us First

Officials in Seoul picked up on an announcement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency, and it reaffirms North Korea's adamant refusal to give up their military assets.

It raises further doubts on whether leader Kim Jong-un will ever relinquish an arsenal he may see as his greatest guarantee of survival.

US officials will try to expedite humanitarian aid to North Korea, a USA envoy said on Wednesday, as Washington and Pyongyang struggle to find a breakthrough in stalled talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear programme.

What does this mean for peace talks?

While the United States has halted large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, there is no indication that the Trump administration would agree to remove US troops from South Korea.

The standoff in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington has become prolonged, with North Korea complaining about the United States stepping up pressure against it.

North Korean state media has credited Trump for his "willingness" to continue dialogue but has also slammed Washington for stepping up sanctions, accusing the State Department of being "bent on bringing the DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of a year ago which was marked by exchanges of fire".

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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A second summit, however, is reportedly still in the works between President Trump and Kim Jong Un despite heightened tensions. "We remain confident and we look forward to the commitments that Chairman Kim and that President Trump have made". However, none of those moves were verified by outsiders, and most experts say they fall short as material steps toward denuclearization.

Kim declared his nuclear force was complete after the torrent of weapons tests in 2017, including the detonation of a purported thermonuclear weapon and three test-flights of intercontinental ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching the USA mainland.

"If we unilaterally give up our nuclear weapons without any security assurance despite being first on the USA list of targets for pre-emptive nuclear strikes, that wouldn't be denuclearization - it would rather be a creation of a defenseless state where the balance in nuclear strategic strength is destroyed and the crisis of a nuclear war is brought forth", the KCNA said.

Toward that end, Biegun said he was directed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to review America's policy on humanitarian assistance provided to North Korea.

"The sooner North Korea denuclearizes, the sooner sanctions can be lifted", he said at a regular press briefing.

Biegun is expected to discuss inter-Korean issues with Cho amid US concerns that Seoul may be moving too quickly with Pyongyang relative to the lacklustre progress on denuclearisation.

The nuclear envoys are expected to discuss ways to break the impasse in North Korea-US denuclearization talks, as well as sanctions exemptions for a groundbreaking ceremony to reconnect and modernize cross-border railways and roads.