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North Korea Denies "Secret" Nuclear Facilities Exist As Door Closing On Future Talks

A new report by the prominent Japanese daily Asahi has revealed that a key reason talks with the US broke down last month in Hanoi was due to Kim Jong Un’s denial of the existence of “secret” nuclear facilities, resulting in disagreements that have reportedly left Kim disappointed and impatient, to the point that the north last week threatened to shut down talks altogether

Citing the report, which relies on unnamed officials, Bloomberg notes, "The U.S. had requested specific names and locations of facilities to be shut down as part of the talks but North Korea said only that 'all' facilities be closed without giving details."

President Donald Trump greeted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, during the February 27 talks. Image source: White House

The talks broke down prematurely when the US side reportedly demanded the north give up all its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons before it receives any sanctions relief  — even after Kim Jong Un reportedly made a "historically unprecedented offer" to close all of Yongbyon together with U.S. experts, according to later North Korean foreign ministry press statements. 

The US side later confirmed that offer was on the table, but stalled as there was severe disagreement over just which facilities were included, as well the scope of Pyongyang's sanctions relief demands. 

Last Friday North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters that Kim was "disappointed" not to make a deal with Trump last month. 

It appears Kim is fast losing patience, according to Vox's summary of the content of the press briefing: 

North Korea threatened to end diplomatic talks with the US as well as its moratorium on missile and nuclear tests — a provocative statement that could end a months-long period of relative harmony between the two nations.

“We have no intention to yield to the US demands in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” Choe said.

Expressing Kim's level of anger and disappointment, Choe said further, “On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said, ‘For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?’”

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had immediately tried to downplay the threat of pullout, saying Kim "on multiple occasions" had directly assured Trump  he would not lift a self-imposed moratorium on the tests.

"So that's Chairman Kim’s word," Pompeo said late last week. “We have every expectation that he will live up to that commitment.”

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