SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea criticised United States (US) President Donald Trump in a stinging denunciation of the US yesterday, the second anniversary of a landmark summit in Singapore where the US pPesident shook hands with leader Kim Jong-un.
It was the latest in a series of vitriolic statements from Pyongyang aimed at both Washington and Seoul, and came a day after the North implicitly threatened to disrupt November’s election if the US did not stay out of inter-Korean affairs.
In recent days, Pyongyang excoriated the South over defectors launching leaflets criticising Kim into the North and announced it was cutting all official communication links with Seoul.
Yesterday’s broadside contained some of the harshest criticism Pyongyang sent Washington’s way in recent months, and casts doubt over the future of the two sides’ long-stalled nuclear talks process.
In the onslaught, the North’s Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon accused Washington of hypocrisy and seeking regime change, saying that the hopes of 2018 “faded away into a dark nightmare”.
Trump and Kim were all smiles in front of the world’s cameras in Singapore as a North Korean leader met a sitting US President for the first time, and afterwards Trump proclaimed on Twitter that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”. But a second meeting in Hanoi last year to put meat on the bones of the North’s vaguely worded Singapore pledge to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” collapsed over what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.
US diplomats insisted they believe Kim promised in Singapore to give up its arsenal, something Pyongyang has taken no steps to do.
The North is under multiple international sanctions over its banned weapons programmes. It believes it deserves to be rewarded for its moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and the disabling of its atomic test site, along with the return of jailed US citizens and remains of soldiers killed in the Korean War. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise,” Ri said in his statement, carried by the official KCNA news agency.
Trump made much of his connection with Kim – at one point declaring that they had fallen “in love” through their exchanges of letters. But Ri said Pyongyang now believed there was no hope for an improvement “simply by maintaining personal relations between our Supreme Leadership and the US President”. He stopped just short of criticising Trump by name, but referred to comments that “the master of the White House” had “reeled off time and time again as a boast”. “Never again will we provide the US Chief Executive with another package to be used… without receiving any returns.”