North Korea on Sunday warned the United States that new sanctions imposed by Washington could derail its plans to get rid of its nuclear programme.

The US had said last week that it had introduced sanctions on three North Korean officials, including a top aide to leader Kim Jong-un, for alleged human rights abuses, Reuters reported. In response, Pyongyang said this could “block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever”.

“Since we know too well that the deep-rooted hostility between the DPRK [North Korea] and the US cannot be redressed overnight, we have been proposing that the DPRK-US relations be improved on a step-by-step approach of resolving what is feasible one by one,” a statement by the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The ministry claimed that though Pyongyang wanted to implement the joint statement issued by US President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore in June, “the continued commission by the United States of vicious anti-DPRK hostile actions, running counter to these developments prompts shock and indignation”. Pyongyang said that Washington imposed sanctions no less than eight times, against not just North Korea but even Russia and China “by fabricating pretexts of all hues”.

The ministry acknowledged that Trump had shown his willingness to improve US-North Korea relations, but the State Department wanted to bring ties “back to the the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire”. North Korea said “maximum pressure” on it will not work, and called for a “sincere approach” from the US to implement the joint statement.