The North Korean Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday threatening to restart the development of the country's nuclear arsenal should the U.S. refuse to lift sanctions. The threat comes during an uneasy period between Washington and Pyongyang, as the U.S. has insisted the economic pressures will remain until the North Korean nuclear development program has been effectively dismantled.
The statement says that North Korea is prepared to resume the country's "pyongjin" policy of advancing nuclear development simultaneous to economic growth if the U.S. fails to shift its approach and continues to act "arrogantly." The U.S. has remained adamant that sanctions will remain in place until the program is disassembled. However, Kim's regime has ordered for a piecemeal approach, in which sanctions are gradually lifted as the denuclearization process is underway. This is the closest the North has come to revamping its nuclear program since Kim motioned a new national policy in April, which signaled a shift in the country's focus away from nuclear advancement and towards improving the economy.
South Korea has also expressed discontent with the U.S's failure to lift sanctions on the peninsula, as the South envisions economic cooperation in the region and movement between borders.
During an interview on Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that he plans to meet with his North Korean counterpart next week to discuss the impasse. "A lot of work remains, but I'm confident that we will keep the economic pressure in place until such time as Chairman Kim fulfills the commitment he made to President Trump back in June in Singapore," Pompeo said. Earlier the same week he appeared on "The Laura Ingraham Show" where he discussed the possibility of another summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, which would facilitate "a substantial breakthrough in taking down the nuclear threat from North Korea."
However, according to the Foreign Ministry's statement Friday, North Korea finds the U.S. approach laughable. "The U.S. thinks that its oft-repeated 'sanctions and pressure' leads to 'denuclearization.' We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea," it reads. The statement goes on to express the country's view that while sanctions remain intact, there will be no room for improvement in the U.S. and North Korea's relationship. "Improvement of relations and sanctions is incompatible."