North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong on Tuesday dismissed prospects for a breakthrough on nuclear talks with the US — predicting Washington’s expectations would end in disappointment.
The senior official in North Korea’s ruling party released a statement in state media saying the US appeared to be interpreting signals from North Korea in the “wrong way.”
She was responding to National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, who on Sunday said he saw as an “interesting signal” in a recent speech by her brother on preparing for both confrontation and diplomacy with the US.
“It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself,” she said in the statement, released by the North’s KCNA news agency.
“The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment,” Kim Yo Jong added.
Her blunt statement indicates that the diplomatic impasse over the rogue regime’s nuclear program is likely to continue unless North Korea suffers greater pandemic-related economic difficulties and needs urgent outside help, according to some experts.
Hope for a resumption of nuclear talks jumped briefly last week when Kim Jong Un said his country must be ready for both dialogue and confrontation — though more for confrontation.
Sullivan called his comments an “interesting signal.”
Shin Beomchul, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said Pyongyang has been communicating the same message for months — that it has no intention to resume talks unless the US offers meaningful concessions, likely in the form of eased economic sanctions.
The Biden administration, for its part, doesn’t want to budge either, he said.
“Both parties are locked in a waiting game — North Korea wants the United States to make concessions first, and the United States has no intentions to match a level of action the North is demanding,” Shin said.
Sung Kim, the top US envoy on North Korea affairs, said during a visit to Seoul on Monday that Washington is willing to meet the North “anywhere, anytime without preconditions.”
But he stressed that the Biden administration would continue to pressure the country with sanctions over its nuclear and missile ambitions.
Shortly before Kim Yo Jong’s statement was released, Sung Kim met South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young and said Washington and Seoul remain committed to seeking the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula by diplomacy.
Lee said he hoped North Korea would return to the negotiating table and called the current situation “a very good chance” to resume talks.
Sung Kim later met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the two said they would strive to resume US-North Korea talks, Moon’s office said.
The South Korean government didn’t immediately comment on Kim Yo Jong’s comments.
As a precondition for a return to the negotiating table, North Korea has repeatedly called on Washingon to lift its “hostile policy” toward it, an apparent reference to the US-led sanctions and regular military drills with South Korea.
But experts said the Biden administration won’t ease sanctions or make other major concessions before the Hermit Kingdom takes concrete steps toward denuclearization.
Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said Kim Yo Jong’s statement suggested her country isn’t ready to rejoin talks anytime soon.
“A mutual distrust and antagonism run so deep that the resumption of the North Korea-US talks is difficult. Even if the US and North Korea meet, it’ll never be easy to find common ground,” Cheong said.
With Post wires