North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands at the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters in Pyongyang on May 9, 2018.
North Korea's Official Korean Central News Agency via AFP/Getty Images

As North Korea threatens to nix Kim Jong Un's meeting with President Trump next month, the question of what Kim wants takes center stage. 

Trump said last week that "great things could happen for North Korea" if the talks planned for June 12 in Singapore lead to the isolated nation dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Trump's message implied that sanctions could be lifted, which would allow business relations between the North and the United States for the first time. 

Last month's meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in ended with an optimistic pledge to seek peace on the Korean Peninsula and rekindle economic and cultural exchanges.

But the North seeks more than a deal on nuclear weapons or a peace treaty. Here's what Kim wants:

U.S. security assurances 

Kim's spokesman said Wednesday that North Korea is not interested in giving up its nuclear program without a corresponding change in the U.S. military posture.

North Korea is not interested in "unilateral nuclear abandonment," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement, according to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 

He accused the White House and State Department of attempting to turn North Korea into another Libya by insisting on "abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward."

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi relinquished his nuclear weapons development program in return for normalized relations with the United States, but he was deposed in a rebellion supported by NATO.

North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with South Korean officials scheduled for Wednesday because of a U.S.-South Korean joint military exercise that the North views as a threat.

KCNA called the use of B-52 strategic bombers and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, both nuclear-capable weapons in the U.S. arsenal, a "deliberate military provocation" that threatens the spirit of peace.

A U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet lands as South Korea and the United States conduct the Max Thunder joint military exercise at an air base in Gwangju, South Korea, May 16, 2018. North Korea on Wednesday canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to scrap a historic summit next month between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over military exercises between Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang has long claimed are invasion rehearsals.


North Korea's agreements and statements indicate Kim wants normalized relations with the United States. “An end to U.S. enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim just as it was his grandfather’s and father’s for the past 30 years,” said Leon Sigal, author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.

Kim may be willing to denuclearize and even take steps to disarm if Trump commits to end hostile relations with North Korea and takes action to show the United States means it, Sigal wrote in March in 38 North, an independent online journal that provides analysis of North Korea.

A problem for U.S. leaders has been that North Korea's totalitarian government is so cruel to its people and aggressive toward its neighbors that conducting normal trade would be politically unappetizing.