North Korean officials are calling for the U.S. to drop economic sanctions against the country in exchange for what Pyongyang says were recent gestures of goodwill.
What did they say?
The Rodong Sinmun — a newspaper run by the ruling Workers' Party — published an editorial Monday accusing Washington of "acting opposite" from its promises to work on improving relations with North Korea, saying that Pyongyang had showed good faith by agreeing to denuclearize and by returning the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War.
"There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the U.S. State Department that it won't ease sanctions until a denuclearization is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power," the paper stated, Business Insider reported. "How could the sanctions, which were a stick the U.S. administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries' amity?"
Over the weekend, Fox News reported, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said that while his country has "initiated goodwill measures" such as a "moratorium on the nuclear test and rocket launch test and dismantling of nuclear test ground," and added that the U.S. has gone "back to the old, far from its leader's intention."
So, what now?
While the remains of the soldiers received from North Korea were "consistent with being Americans," Fox News said, forensic testing is still underway.
But, according to Reuters, a confidential U.N. report released Friday said that North Korea has not stopped its nuclear missile programs, as promised. The report also revealed that Pyongyang "continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as the through transfers of coal at sea during 2018."
North Korea, The Guardian noted, has repeatedly circumvented sanctions with the help of their closest allies, China and Russia.
Addressing the U.N.'s findings, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday, "If these reports prove accurate, and we have every reason to believe that they are, that would be in violation."
Pompeo pointed out that the sanctions against North Korea had been unanimously supported by the U.N. Security Council.
"I want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions that this is a serious issue and something we will discuss with Moscow," he said.
"We expect the Russians and all countries to abide to the U.N. Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea," he continued. "Any violation that detracts from the world's goal of finally, fully denuclearizing North Korea would be something that America would take very seriously."