Kim Jong Un’s regime issues threat to America

Rhetoric could hinder negotiations between US and North Korea

Kim Jong Un’s regime issues threat to America
North Korea issued veiled threats to America just days before high-level talks are set to begin. (North Korean State TV/CNN)

(CNN) – North Korea has stepped up its heated rhetoric.

The veiled threats come just as North Korean leaders prepare for another round of high-level talks with the U.S.

Analysts are worried that negotiations could break down.

Kim Jong Un’s regime issued a threat to America, just days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Kim’s top intelligence official in New York.

North Korea’s foreign ministry warns the regime could build up its nuclear forces again if the U.S. doesn’t ease sanctions on the country.

"North Korea always, before a meeting, tries to gain leverage by perhaps issuing threatening language or insinuating a threat,” said Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst on North Korea. “That said, we don't want to just dismiss it as negotiating rhetoric. It does reflect their position. It also reflects the stance that they have, that they don't want to give up much."

The North Koreans believe they’ve already given up a lot.

They’ve returned American remains from the Korean War and released some Americans who were detained in North Korea.

They’ve destroyed a missile engine test facility and blown up the entrances to their main nuclear bomb testing site.

But experts say some of those moves are cosmetic.

"It in no way impedes the continued development and expansion of their nuclear arsenal and their missile arsenal," Klingner said.

Still, the North Koreans believe these have been uneven trades, and they want the Trump administration to ratchet back crippling sanctions before the regime scales back more of its nuclear program.

But Secretary Pompeo is resolute.

"Stray voltage happens to be all around us. We’re very focused,” Pompeo said. “We know with whom we are negotiating, we know what their positions are, and President Trump’s made his position very clear: no economic relief until we have achieved our ultimate objective."

President Donald Trump had gotten credit from North Korea experts for meeting with Kim Jong Un and getting the North Koreans more engaged in dialogue.

Analysts are split on whether that’s all falling apart.

"We're about as far apart as you can get,” Klingner said. “Five months after the summit, we don't even have an agreed-upon definition of what denuclearization is."

And experts worry that North Korea’s new threat to build up its nuclear forces may mean they’ll start testing re-entry capabilities for their long-range missiles that can reach the United States.

“If they do test, everything will come to a halt, and we’re really back to where we were a year ago,” said Joseph Yun, a former U.S. representative for North Korea policy.

A year ago, there was talk of a possible U.S. first strike on North Korea if they kept up their threatening behavior.

On Monday, experts said Kim and his aides will also be monitoring U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday.

"They always watch midterm elections very closely, and they want to see how much the incumbent in the White House … does he have support?” Yun said. “I think they're looking for whether President Trump gets weakened or not."

Analysts said the North Koreans are paying attention to whether Democrats get the upper hand in Congress, as they’ve been largely suspicious that Kim Jong Un is playing Trump with empty promises.

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