North Korea warns of ‘bigger threat and harsh suffering’ over nuclear talks deadline

North Korea expressed its displeasure Wednesday over the stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States, warning of a “bigger threat and harsh suffering” if Washington ignores the end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un.

In a statement carried by state media, an unidentified spokesman for the North’s State Affairs Commission said the U.S. must show “self-restraint from careless actions at a sensitive time” to change the current political situation within the Korean Peninsula.

“If the current flow in the political situation doesn’t change, the United States will soon face a bigger threat and harsh suffering that will force them to acknowledge their mistake,” the spokesperson said.

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The remarks come amid planned annual U.S.-South Korean military drills, which the North claims would violate the agreements between Kim and President Trump on improving bilateral relations and compel Pyongyang to raise its war readiness.

The talks between the two nations have faltered since the collapse of a February summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korea’s demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for the partial surrendering of its nuclear capabilities.

In this June 30, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea.

In this June 30, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea. (AP)

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In recent months, North Korea has ramped up its missile tests, which experts say will likely continue to put pressure on Washington as Kim’s deadline nears for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

Last week, senior North Korean diplomat Kwon Jong Gun said a joint aerial exercise planned by the U.S. and South Korea in coming weeks amounted to "throwing a wet blanket over the spark" of nuclear negotiations that are "on the verge of extinction." Kwon said North Korea’s patience was nearing its limit and that it will “never remain an onlooker" to "reckless military moves."

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Since the start of the nuclear talks last year, the United States and South Korea have canceled or scaled back their regular military drills to create space for diplomacy. But North Korea says the smaller drills are still a rehearsal for an invasion and has reacted strongly to the exercises during stalemates in the negotiations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.