North Korea: ‘Strategic Security’ Can’t Be Given Away for Sanctions Relief

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North Korea: ‘Strategic Security’ Can’t Be Given Away for Sanctions Relief

The statement follows weeks of intensified North Korean short-range missile testing.

North Korea: ‘Strategic Security’ Can’t Be Given Away for Sanctions Relief
Credit: Illustration by Catherine Putz

North Korea, over the weekend, issued a reminder that it would not surrender its nuclear weapons in exchange for relief from sanctions.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Saturday released an article attributed to writer Jong Hyon, a pseudonymous voice, titled “Sanctions will never work on the DPRK.”

“The U.S. should clearly understand that we do not have a lingering attachment on sanctions relief and that we will never barter the strategic security of the country for the sanctions relief,” the article noted. The phrase “strategy security” appeared to be a euphemism for the country’s nuclear forces.

“The U.S. must have felt that sanctions, pressure and sanctions relief are just like useless tatters and that they will not lead us to any ‘change,'” the article added.

The article warned that the United States had to “break with the old way of thinking,” reiterating longstanding messaging since April 2019.

That month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on the United States to take a “bold decision” by the end of the year.

North Korea requested substantial sanctions relief at the second U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Hanoi.

There, Kim Jong Un asked for relief from several clauses across five United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting its trade. The resolutions were passed in 2016 and 2017, as North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing reached unprecedented intensity.

Washington rejected the request for sanctions relief at that summit. The North Korean side offered facilities at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in exchange for the relief.

Last year, before the Singapore summit meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald J. Trump, North Korea also suggested that its nuclear weapons were not on the negotiating table for sanctions relief.

On May 16, Kim Kye Gwan, the first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, said that North Korea would not abandon nuclear weapons for any “economic compensation” from the United States.

“The U.S. is miscalculating the magnanimity and broad-minded initiatives of the DPRK as signs of weakness and trying to embellish and advertise as if these are the product of its sanctions and pressure,” Kim added in that statement.

In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted a flurry of ballistic missile launches. Beginning in May, Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of three new weapons systems: two short-range ballistic missiles and one large-caliber multiple launch rocket system.

On June 30, Trump and Kim met briefly for a third summit, resolving to restore working-level talks on denuclearization. Since that meeting, working-level negotiators between the two sides have yet to meet.