North Korea has condemned the latest sanctions imposed by the United States against Pyongyang, calling them an attempt at sabotaging a nascent process of dialog with South Korea.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman on Saturday described the new US sanctions as “a manifestation of heinous intention to throw a wet blanket over the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation and to aggravate the situation,” according to the country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
North and South Koreas have recently started face-to-face negotiations in a fragile effort to defuse long-running tensions. Pyongyang initiated that dialog, putting the US — always relying on a policy of pressure against the North — in an awkward situation.
Washington responded with confusion, both downplaying the North Korean overture to start dialog with the South and claiming credit for it. Then on Wednesday came the new sanctions.
The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on nine North Korean entities — 16 people and six ships — accusing them of involvement in helping Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
Referring to the sanctions, the North Korean spokesman said the US had to stop such an “anachronistic” policy toward North Korea.
On Friday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the breakthrough in talks between North and South Koreas must not become as a distraction from the aim of denuclearizing Pyongyang.