North Korea Underlines the Clock Is Ticking

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Ignoring Bing Crosby’s advice to accentuate the positive, Pyongyang has latched onto what it portrayed as the negative in April 24 remarks by US Secretary of State Pompeo. In an April 30 statement released by KCNA, First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui zeroed in on the Secretary’s remarks that if US-DPRK dialogue breaks down, the US would have to “change paths.” The remainder of Pompeo’s remarks available in public at the time were positive about what the two sides had accomplished in Hanoi, repeating a standard US position that there would be a good path ahead “if” DPRK leader Kim Jong Un makes a “fundamental strategic calculation” on denuclearization.

Choe’s response appears to reflect a sense in Pyongyang that Washington is not yet taking seriously—or worse, is directly contradicting—Kim Jong Un’s assertion in his April 12 address to the Supreme People’s Assembly that the US must make a fundamental decision to change its calculation on how to approach US-DPRK relations, and it must do so by the end of the year.

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