In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said that the country no longer considered itself bound by its moratoriums on nuclear and ICBM tests and vowed to demonstrate a “new strategic weapon soon.”
Instead of with an actual address, North Korea opened 2020 by issuing a “Report on the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers,” an almost 4,400-word text that outlined what Kim had to say after a rare and lengthy meeting of the ruling party that started in the final days of December.
North Korean TV showed Kim leading the four-day Workers’ Party meeting.
A self-imposed ban on these tests has been at the core of the nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington over the last two years, which has seen three meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump, but little tangible progress. However, Kim said that these bans were no longer needed.
“There is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer,” the official KCNA news agency cited him telling ruling party officials.
“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,” he added.
Negotiations between North Korea and the US have been at a complete standstill since February 2019, and in the later part of the year, Kim gave the Trump administration a deadline until year’s end to provide some concessions from sanctions, or that Pyongyang would go on a “new path.”
Kim made it clear that the North was willing to live under international sanctions to preserve its nuclear capability.
“The US is raising demands contrary to the fundamental interests of our state and is adopting brigandish attitude,” KCNA cited him as saying.
Washington had “conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop” and sent high-tech military equipment to the South, he said, and stepped up sanctions against the North.
“We can never sell our dignity,” he added, saying Pyongyang would “shift to a shocking actual action to make (the US) pay for the pains sustained by our people”.
The US has already indicated that it will react if the North carried out a long-range missile test.
Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the administration would be “extraordinarily disappointed and we’ll demonstrate that disappointment”.
“We have a lot of tools in our toolkit, and additional pressure can be brought to bear on the North Koreans,” he said.
Kim Jong Un didn’t specify what “new path” he could take in 2020, but North Korean state television may have given a hint by showing clips of missiles rocketing into the sky over a looped hour-long video of the meeting.
Weapons featured included missiles fired from mobile launchers and a rocket lifting off from what appeared to be an underwater platform.
It is likely that this is an indication that the North is willing to employ a more offensive defensive posture. It is notable that Kim also made no mention of South Korea.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- NORAD Claims It’s Tracking Gift Giving From Both Santa Claus and North Korea
- Is This Kim’s “Christmas Gift”? Satellite Images Suggest North Korea Readying ICBM Tests