North Korea says continued sanctions deepen its mistrust in US

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho. (AFP pic)

UNITED NATIONS: North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the United Nations on Saturday that continued sanctions on Pyongyang were deepening its mistrust in the United States.

“Without any trust in the US there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” Ri told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

China and Russia have said the UN Security Council should reward Pyongyang for steps taken after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.

“The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe-dream of the people who are ignorant about us. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust,” Ri said.

However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the UN Security Council on Thursday: “Enforcement of Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearisation.”

Ri noted that North Korea had taken “significant good-will measures such as stopping nuclear and ICBM tests, dismantling the nuclear test site in a transparent manner and affirming not to transfer nuclear weapons and nuclear technology under any circumstances.”

“However, we do not see any corresponding response from the US,” he added.

The Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.