North Korea demanded the partial lifting of sanctions that “that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people,” specifically parts of five UN resolutions from 2016 and 2017. There are 11 resolutions in total imposing sanctions on North Korea.
In exchange for partial lifting of sanctions by the US, North Korea would permanently remove plutonium and uranium processing facilities and Yongbyon, in the presence of US experts, Ri said, adding that the “US was not ready to accept our proposal.”
The North Korean official said Washington demanded “one more” measure beyond dismantling Yongbyon, which went too far for Pyongyang.
North Korea also offered written assurances of permanently desisting from nuclear and long-range missile testing. Ri explained that Pyongyang asked for sanctions relief because North Korea presumed the US was not ready to give security assurances just yet.
“Our proposal will never change although US proposes negotiations again in the future,” said Ri, who then left without taking questions from the press.
While Ri did not say what the “one more” US demand was, South Korean media have busily speculated that it might have included Pyongyang’s biological and chemical weapons, reportedly at the urging of Trump’s hardline national security adviser John Bolton.
Wednesday’s summit in Hanoi began on a high note but ended early and without a deal.
“It was about the sanctions basically,” US President Donald Trump told reporters after parting ways with Kim Jong-un. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that. Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”
The US president’s statement suggests it was he, not Kim, who walked out of the talks. It remains unclear why Trump was referring to sanctions in their entirety and Ri spoke of partial relief.
On his way back from Vietnam, Trump spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and told them he would continue talking with North Korea, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.