The United States openly sent a warning after South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that the Seoul government was reviewing the possibility to lift the sanctions imposed against Pyongyang following its torpedo attack on a South Korean corvette that killed 46 sailors on board in 2010.
In regard to Kang’s remarks on sanctions, U.S. President Donald Trump said on October 10 (local time), “They (the South Korean government) will not lift sanctions on Pyongyang without U.S. approval.”
The U.S. Department of State also said, “President Trump has clearly said that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes.” It reconfirmed the principle that sanctions will not be eased until North Korea takes enough additional measures for denuclearization.
There is growing concern that the remarks on North Korea sanctions show cracks in the S. Korea-U.S. alliance. In light of Washington's stern attitude, it is virtually inevitable for the South Korean government to face setbacks when it comes to joint economic projects with North Korea.
Asked about Kang’s remarks and consultation with South Korea, Trump said, "They won't do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval." He also clarified his “denuclearize first, talk sanctions after” principle a day earlier, saying, “We want to lift sanctions on North Korea but we need to get something (from North Korea) in order to do that.”
In addition, the U.S. Department of State said, “The faster we reach the final, fully-verified dismantlement (FFVD) of the North's nuclear program, the faster we can lift sanctions.” During a press briefing, Robert Palladino, a U.S. State Department spokesman, also said, “President Trump has clearly said from the beginning that sanctions will be eased following denuclearization. The U.S. and South Korea are closely working together to come up with unified measures for North Korea. Ask the South Korean government for details.”
Regarding to Trump’s remarks, Cheong Wa Dae (the Presidential Office) said, “The issue was brought up during a parliamentary audit yesterday, and President Trump just answered to reporters’ questions regarding it. We take his remarks as emphasizing his intention to handle all the issues between South Korea and the U.S. through consultation.” South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha suggested during a parliamentary audit of her ministry on Oct. 10 (Korean time) that the government is considering easing its own sanctions imposed against the North Korea following the attack on a warship. Under growing criticism, Kang later walked back her comments, saying, “What I was trying to say is that the department in charge is reviewing it.”
In regard to the controversy over Kang’s remarks, a senior official from the Presidential Office said, “The ministry in charge will clarify the controversial remarks during the parliamentary audit. We don’t have anything to add.”