North Korea on Tuesday said the upcoming military drills by the United States and South Korea could impact nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington, AFP reported.
“If the military exercise really goes ahead, it would affect the DPRK-US [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-United States] working-level talks,” an unidentified foreign ministry spokesperson said in a report carried by state news agency KCNA.
The spokesperson said the regime was monitoring the Alliance 19-2 military exercises planned for August in South Korea, Bloomberg reported. The joint drills have been held for years but were scaled down to facilitate dialogue with North Korea after Trump’s historic first summit with Kim Jong un in Singapore last year.
This is the first statement from North Korea on the nuclear talks since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong un agreed to resume talks after they met in the demilitarised zone between South and North Korea in June.
The spokesperson said the military drills slated for next month were “clearly a breach” of a joint statement signed by the leaders in Singapore last year. The official said Pyongyang’s moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests was a commitment aimed at improving bilateral relations and “not a legal document inscribed on a paper”.
“With the US unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the US as well,” the spokesperson said.
The two leaders had met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore for a historic summit, following which Kim had committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula. Trump announced the suspension of what he called Washington’s “very provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea.
Trump and Kim held a second meeting in Vietnam, but it had abruptly ended following a disagreement over sanctions imposed on North Korea. In March, North Korea had promised further negotiations on its nuclear weapons with the United States despite both countries failing to reach a deal at the Hanoi summit in Vietnam.
Tensions escalated in May when North Korea fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017. Trump, however, dismissed concerns over North Korea’s missile testing.