North Korea warned the US to lift its financial sanctions, looking to free $24 million in the regime leadership's assets in a Macau bank. In Beijing enroute back to North Korea, Kim Kye Gwan warned that should the US fail to lift the sanctions, North Korea “will be forced to take corresponding steps.”
Previously, North Korea also said that US-South Korean war games in South Korea - similar to joint maneuvers that have been carried out for decades - threatened the nuclear talks. North Korea said that the exercises now are "provocative saber-rattling [and] an uncouth act little short of leveling a gun at the dialogue partner."
North Korea's agitated demeanor extended beyond its words for the United States as their direct talks with Japan on normalizing diplomatic relations ended after only 45 minutes. Japan wants a full accounting of its citizens abducted and held - or potentially killed - by the North Koreans over the span of several decades. With no movement or information offered from the North Koreans, the meeting abruptly broke off.
IAEA Director-General ElBaradei is headed to Pyongyang in hopes of restoring IAEA inspectors expelled by the North Koreans. Despite the IAEA's part in the failure to prevent conditions which led to the October testing of a North Korean plutonium bomb, ElBaradei says he now hopes "to reverse course toward denuclearization and a comprehensive settlement involving economic and security concerns."