“Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of the freezing of nuclear testing and missile testing,” North Korea Ambassador to India Kye Chun Yong said during an interview on India’s TV network WION.
According to Kye, North Korea is prepared to hold such negotiations with the U.S. at “anytime” — but without preconditions from Washington.
“If our demands is met [sic], we can negotiate in terms of the moratorium of such [programs] as weapons testing,” the diplomat said.
That said, North Korea first wants to see the U.S. “completely stop” large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, temporarily or permanently, according to Kye. And he said the North would agree to a temporary stop of exercises too.
The U.S. has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and around 50,000 American military personnel in Japan. The U.S. regularly holds joint military drills with the two Asian allies, including exercises involving land troops, navy and air forces.
The U.S. is worried about North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons as well as its push to have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. North Korea has already demonstrated it has missiles that can reach Japan and South Korea as well as U.S. military bases on Guam, and experts say they probably can reach the state of Hawaii.
It was unclear if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shares the views of his Indian envoy. In the past, Kim has eliminated officials or even family members he considers to be out of line or a threat to the dynastic regime.
Meantime, rhetoric coming from North Korean state media Thursday appeared to indicate Pyongyang is pressing forward with its nuclear weapons and missile development.
“The army of the DPRK is whetting the sword of retaliation shaper [sic] than before with a firm hold on the nuclear sword of justice to cope with the U.S. imperialists’ escalating aggression moves,” North’s Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency said on its website.
Also, KCNA said “the Trump administration, obsessed by megalomania, is going arrogant to mount a preemptive nuclear strike at the DPRK.” DPRK is a reference to North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
A day earlier, KCNA vowed North Koreans would “take revenge upon the U.S. aggressors with the approach of June 25, the day of struggle against U.S. imperialism.”
One possibility is North Korea maybe hinting that it will mark June 25 to conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-fire another ballistic missile. The date of June 25, 1950 is the anniversary of when North Korea’s army attacked South Korea, crossing the so-called 38th parallel and touching off the Korean War.
Pyongyang’s last nuclear test was in September 9, 2016, and it marked the 68th anniversary of the communist state’s creation.
At the same time, next week could prove pivotal for the future of the Korean Peninsula as South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet June 29 to 30 with President Donald Trump during a visit in Washington.