North Korea says it will not negotiate sovereignty with ‘double-faced’ US

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea said it will never negotiate its sovereignty with the United States, criticising Washington as “double-faced” for offering talks while ramping up military activities in the region, state media KCNA reported on Thursday.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior official, said the U.S. showed “extreme double standards” at this week’s meeting of the U.N. Security Council over North Korea’s recent launch of its first spy satellite.

The meeting set the stage for a rare, public spat between U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and North Korean Ambassador Kim Song, both arguing that their countries’ military activities are defensive.

Kim Yo Jong said Thomas-Greenfield highlighted efforts to reopen talks with North Korea even as she lacked “justifiable ground” for denying its sovereign right to space development.

The U.S. and South Korea have condemned the satellite launch as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea’s use of any ballistic technology.

Thomas-Greenfield also failed to “make a more logical excuse for how the U.S. stand for ‘diplomatic engagement’ and its efforts to ‘resume dialogue’ blend with the provocative military activities of the U.S. nuclear carrier and nuclear submarine deployed in the Korean peninsula,” Kim said, according to KCNA.

“We make it clear once again to the U.S. which asked the DPRK to fix the time and agenda for resuming the DPRK-U.S. dialogue,” Kim said, calling North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The sovereignty of an independent state can never be an agenda item for negotiations, and therefore, the DPRK will never sit face to face with the U.S. for that purpose.”

Kim also said it was Washington’s “double standards” and “high-handed and arbitrary practices,” not her country’s space programme, which dent regional peace and stability.

In another dispatch, KCNA said leader Kim inspected photos of a U.S. naval base in San Diego and a Kadena air base in Japan, taken by a spy satellite.

Pyongyang has said the satellite was designed to monitor U.S. and South Korean military movements, and has photographed U.S. military bases around the world including in Guam and Italy, as well as such installations as the White House and Pentagon.

But state media has not released any imagery, fuelling debate among officials and analysts in Seoul and Washington over how capable the satellite actually is.

In a separate commentary, KCNA denounced South Korea for intensifying what it called “war provocative moves” through joint military drills with U.S. troops, involving aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

It accused South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol of playing a key role in “formalising a concrete nuclear war provocation plan” by bringing U.S. nuclear strategic assets and stepping up combined exercises also including Japan.

South Korea had initially planned to launch its own first spy satellite on a U.S. Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, but the plan was postponed due to weather.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Editing by Ed Osmond and Josie Kao)