North Korea vows to quit nuclear talks as row with US escalates

North Korea has vowed to quit nuclear talks with the US in response to comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An official for Kim Jong-un's regime said on Monday Pompeo was undermining North Korea's willingness to return to talks.

Last week, Pompeo said after speaking to G7 leaders that all nations had to stay united in calling for North Korea to return to negotiations and applying pressure through sanctions to stop their nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"The world would not know why the US-North Korea relations continue to get tangled up, despite the special relationship between the leaders of North Korea and the United States," North Korean state media KCNA said.

On March 22, North Korea said it welcomed a letter from US President Donald Trump to Kim Jong-un as a sign of "the special and very firm personal relations," between the two leaders.

KCNA said the president had written in the letter that he was impressed by Kim's efforts to defend his people from coronavirus.

But it announced on Monday that North Korea's latest test of super-large multiple rocket launchers a day earlier had been a success.

On Sunday, the country fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast.

It was the latest in a string of recent launches which South Korea has branded "inappropriate" in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

North Korean media said the launch was aimed at examining the strategic and technical features of its launchers, which have been tested multiple times since last August.

It isn't known if Kim was at the latest test, which was led by communist party vice-chairman Ri Pyong Chol and carried out at the Academy of National Defence Science.

"The operational deployment of the weapon system of super-large multiple rocket launchers is a crucial work of very great significance in realising the party's new strategic intention for national defence," Ri said.

But experts have branded Pompeo's call for new sanctions during a global pandemic as potentially devastating to the country's people.

John Carl Baker, an expert on North Korea, wrote in an article: "This pursuit of punishment for punishment's sake is now recklessly endangering the health of the world.

  • North Korea fires 'super-large' multiple rocket launcher and hails it a success

"If there is an outbreak in North Korea, millions within its borders will be at risk — as will many in China and South Korea, countries that only recently began to get the epidemic under control."

He added that "Americans will be put at risk too," by the sanctions.

Pompeo also attracted fury for scuppering G7 talks after insisting Covid-19 be referred to as "Wuhan flu", the Chinese city where the disease was originally spotted.

  • North Korea Dprk
  • Coronavirus
  • Donald Trump

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