Pyongyang won’t talk if joint threats continue
A spokesperson for the North’s Foreign Ministry issued the warning in a statement, also denouncing South Korea for violating inter-Korean agreements to reduce cross-border tensions by introducing high-tech weapons from the United States, calling such an act a “grave provocation.”
The statement came a day after two additional F-35A fighter jets arrived in South Korea, bringing the total number of the stealth fighters in the country’s Air Force to six, and the top U.S. nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, said in Seoul that Washington is ready to resume talks with Pyongyang.
“We remain unchanged in our position to resolve all issues in a peaceful manner through dialogue and negotiation. However, dialogue accompanied by military threats is of no interest to us,” the North’s statement said.
“This act of continuously introducing cutting-edge lethal equipment is a grave provocation that has openly denied the joint declarations and the military agreement between the north and the south of Korea,” it added.
The statement blamed the United States and South Korea for intensifying hostile acts against North Korea, which it said is undermining momentum for talks and forcing Pyongyang to take action to strengthen its own “physical deterrence.”
North Korea has beefed up criticism of South Korea and the United States for heightening tensions by holding their summertime joint military exercise.
Pyongyang, in particular, has slammed Seoul for its arms build-up, such as the introduction of the F-35A fighter jets. Seoul plans to deploy 40 F-35As through 2021.
Also on Thursday, the North’s state TV, the Korean Central Broadcasting Station, lashed out at South Korea’s parliament for adopting a resolution condemning the North’s development of nuclear weapons and firing of missiles.
“If the South Korean parliament thinks it can avoid the responsibility of the deadlock in the North-South relations and deteriorated situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula through the adoption of such a resolution against us, it is a miscalculation,” the report said.
The parliamentary defense committee adopted the resolution earlier this month after North Korea tested three sets of short-range projectile launches in just over a week. The North conducted three more projectile launches since then until last week.
Seoul reaffirmed its commitment to implementing inter-Korean summit agreements that the leaders of the two Koreas reached last year and resolving any issue with the North through talks, urging Pyongyang to return to the negotiation table immediately.
“In order to implement joint declarations, I would like to say that dialogue and cooperation will be the only way. It is our unchanged stance as well that any differences can be adjusted through talks,” a Unification Ministry official told reporters.
“We once again urge the North to respond actively to our efforts to build peace on the Korean Peninsula and advance inter-Korean relations.”