North Korea's foreign minister said Saturday that his country won't dismantle its nuclear weapons program first without seeing corresponding measures from the United States.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ri Yong-ho said his country's commitment to denuclearization is firm but that it needs to see trust-building measures from the U.S.
"Without any trust in the U.S., there will be no confidence in our national security, and under such circumstances, there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first," the minister said.
The North has taken "goodwill measures" by stopping its ballistic missile tests and dismantling a nuclear test site, among other things, Ri said. The U.S., on the other hand, has increased sanctions on the North and rejected Pyongyang's calls for a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, he added.
The foreign minister's address comes as Washington and Pyongyang are re-engaging in talks to implement a denuclearization agreement reached between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their historic Singapore summit in June.
Kim committed to work toward "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.
Planning has been underway for a second summit between the leaders.
"The DPRK government's commitment to thorough implementation of the DPRK-U.S. joint statement is unwavering," Ri said, referring to the North by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"It is our position that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should also be realized along with building a peace regime under the principle of simultaneous actions, step by step, starting with what we can do and giving priority to trust-building," he said.
But instead of addressing the North's concerns about the absence of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, Ri said, the U.S. has insisted that denuclearization come first and increased pressure through sanctions.
"The reason behind the recent deadlock is because the U.S. relies on coercive methods, which are lethal to trust-building," the minister said, referring to a period of stalled negotiations between the sides. "The DPRK government's commitment to denuclearization is solid and firm. However, it is only possible if the U.S. secures our sufficient trust towards the U.S."
Source: Yonhap News Agency