Sanctions will block path to peace, warns North Korea


North Korea has hit out at the USA for stepping up sanctions against its regime, warning that it could force a return to "exchanges of fire" and block the path to nuclear disarmament forever.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has improved since the beginning of this year, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un engaging in a dialogue with the United States and South Korea.

While crediting Trump for his "willingness" to improve relations with North Korea, also known as DPRK, Pyongyang accused the US State Department of being "bent on bringing the DPRK-US relations back to the status of a year ago, which was marked by exchanges of fire".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a constructions site of Yangdeok, in this undated photo released on October 31, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The statement by the policy research director of the Institute for American Studies of the foreign ministry accused the USA of "deliberate provocation" over the sanctions on the three officials.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Biegun reportedly is slated to visit South Korea in the coming days to strategize with officials there on ways to salvage the denuclearization negotiations with the North.

Sunday's statement comes after the USA announced new sanctions last week against three top North Korean officials: Choe Ryong Hae, who is considered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man; Jong Kyong Thaek, minister of State Security; and Pak Kwang Ho, director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department. It then issued a stark warning, saying, if the US failed to pull back its sanctions against the regime, it will "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever - a result desired by no one".

After the Singapore summit in June between Mr Trump and Mr Kim progress stalled in talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

North Koreans mark the seventh anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong Il with visits on Monday to statues and vows of loyalty to his son and successor, Kim Jong Un.

A year earlier, the same newspaper praised his "immortal feat" in building a "Juche nuclear power state".

Trump's tweeted statement came in response, he said, to "many people" asking how the US negotiations with North Korea were going. Such restrictions may have little effect on individuals in one of the world's most closed countries but have symbolic impact as North Korea seeks greater acceptance by the United States.