Kim’s regime said through state-run news agency KCNA that ongoing ‘Max Thunder’ joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea are actually a ‘rehearsal for invasion’ of the North.
‘The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,’ KCNA said.
The White House made no immediate moves to slow down preparations for the summit on Tuesday.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders simply said: ‘We are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies.’
President Trump ignored reporters asking for an update twice on Tuesday as he came and went from the White House to Walter Reed hospital, where his wife was recovering from a benign kidney surgery.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency had earlier reported that Pyongyang also canceled high-level talks with Seoul, scheduled for later in the day.
The North Koreans cited the military drills as the reason.
The meeting was to happen in the border town of Panmunjom, as a followup to Kim’s April meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-In.
The Trump administration has appeared to be making progress in recent weeks toward a new diplomatic framework with the hermit kingdom.
Tempers had cooled following months of belligerence on both sides – Trump called Kim ‘Little Rocket Man’ and Kim responded by branding him a ‘mentally deranged U.S. dotard.’
Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang on a mission to retrieve three Americans held prisoner in the communist nation.
He returned a day later with Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim on board his government jet. Trump, eager to reap the PR benefit of a public splash, went to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland at 2:00 in the morning to greet them personally.
The prisoner release was seen as a first step toward the planned summit, which Trump announced last week would take place June 12 in Singapore.
The North Korean statement got a jump on the U.S State Department
‘We have no information on that,’ said spokeswoman Heather Nauert, NBC reported. ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to verify it.’
The snag comes after North Korea began dismantling a key nuclear test site just weeks before Kim due to meet Trump for what would be historic summit.
Satellite images examined by American researchers appear to show building demolitions, removal of railways, and overturned mining carts at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea.
The researchers are relying on commercial satellite imagery from May 7, according to the 38 North web site.
The site analyzed images which show significant changes that have been made at the location which are consistent with decommissioning.
Critics have argued that the cite already is in need of decommissioning, making its decommissioning less of a concession than it might otherwise seem.
‘Between April 20 and May 7, 2018, the probable engineering office building and a possible instrumentation shed located just outside the North Portal (where the last five underground nuclear tests have been conducted) were razed along with at least two smaller buildings or sheds,’ according to 38 North.
Meanwhile, the hermetic nation plans to join international efforts to implement a total ban on nuclear weapons tests, its ambassador told the United Nations today.
Pyongyang has pledged dismantle the test site some time between May 23 and May 25 in order to uphold its pledge to cease tests, its state media reported on Saturday.
Earlier today, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva Han Tae-song announced the country’s intentions to work towards a complete ban on tests.
‘DPRK will join international desires and efforts for a total ban on nuclear tests,’ Han Tae-song said in an address to the Conference on Disarmament, using North Korea’s official acronym.
Han told the UN assembly that his country aimed to make more ‘efforts to achieve the development of intra-Korean relations, defuse acute military tensions and substantially remove the danger of the war on the Korean peninsula.’
‘It will make sincere efforts… to establish a durable lasting peace mechanism’ with its neighbour to the south, he said, urging the international community to ‘extend its active support in encouraging and promoting the current positive climate.’
The military exercises that apparently provoked the North Korean side are known as ‘Maximum Thunder.’ The drill involves F-15 and F-16 aircraft numbering more than 80, NBC News reported.
The annual drill has regularly been a thorn in the side of the North Koreans. U.S. military officials say it is needed to practice the kind of cooperation that would be necessary in any real live military situation on the heavily-armed Korean peninsula.
It includes both air-to-air and air-to ground mission practice.