North Korea warns U.S. sanctions may 'block path to denuclearisation'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a constructions site of Yangdeok

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, the North praised President Donald Trump for his efforts to improve relations with Pyongyang, but said the US State Department was "bent on bringing the DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of a year ago which was marked by exchanges of fire".

It claimed that Washington had imposed sanctions up to eight times against companies, individuals and ships of North Korea, China and Russian Federation and other third countries, adding: "It will block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever - a result desired by no-one".

That meeting was postponed indefinitely after the two sides failed to find common ground over Pyongyang's demand for sanctions relief and calls by Washington for progress on denuclearisation.

"[Trump] avails himself of every possible occasion to state his willingness to improve DPRK-U.S. relations", the statement read, using the abbreviation of the country's official name - the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In actions required by the US Congress, his administration said last week it would seize any US assets of the three officials for suppressing freedom of speech. "[The U.S. State Department is] bent on bringing the DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of a year ago which was marked by exchanges of fire".

The warning from the North on Sunday came days after the United States said it was imposing sanctions on three senior North Korean officials over human rights abuses.

While there was no immediate reaction from the White House, the statement underscored Pyongyang's rising frustration over the Trump administration's decision in recent days to ramp up previously sidelined human rights concerns against a backdrop of stalled denuclearization talks.

But North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency ran a lengthy commentary late Sunday that slammed the USA for "slander" and "sheer malice" against the country, and for dragging its feet on efforts to improve relations after Kim's summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore in June. "The sanctions are on.I'd love to take the sanctions off, but they have to be responsive, too".

The president also said: "We are doing just fine!"

North Korea is reportedly expanding a missile base deep in its mountainous interior near its border with China; State Department correspondent Rich Edson reports.

There remains "wonderful potential for great economic success" for North Korea, Mr. Trump tweeted, adding that Mr. Kim "sees it better than anyone and will fully take advantage of it for his people". The line was created to give South Korea reaction time in the event of a North Korea provocation.

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