Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation

Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation

Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation

At the time, Kim committed North Korea to "work toward complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

The televised speech is closely watched as a rare public appearance for the young leader, setting the tone for his domestic and foreign policies for the year ahead.

"Now that North and South Korea made a decision to take the path of peace and prosperity, we demand that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as foreign strategic assets should be completely stopped", Kim said.

But with Kim highlighting the need to turn further attention to economic prosperity in his speech, North Korea is also likely to continue to bring up such economic projects as a main agenda - even more than it did a year ago. "He's exuding confidence that his country isn't hung up over the U.S., that they can still prosper without Washington", the analyst added.

They met another two times after that but the most historic summit of 2018 was the North Korean leader's meeting with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

Kim Jong Un said Washington should stop breaking promises and lift sanctions - or Pyongyang may change path.

But he said North Korea however would have "no option but to explore a new path in order to protect our sovereignty" if the United States "miscalculates our people's patience, forces something upon us and pursues sanctions and pressure without keeping a promise it made in front of the world".

Kim also reiterated his "strong will" and the North Korean government's "unchanged" position to pursue better relations with the USA and to seek complete denuclearization.

Kim said inter-Korean relations have now entered a "completely new phase", and he is willing to resume key joint economic projects with the South - the factory park in Kaesong and tours to Mt. Kumgang - without conditions. Neither of those is possible for South Korea unless sanctions are removed.

More news: An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy dies in United States custody on Christmas

Kim's speech "expressed his frustration with the lack of progress in negotiations so far", said former South Korean vice unification minister Kim Hyung-seok.

Regarding inter-Korean relations, Kim stressed that North Korea was strongly invested in bringing peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula.

"U.S. negotiators should move decisively in the new year to find out how far Kim is willing to go toward a verified cap on his arsenal".

The statement jarred with Seoul's claim that Kim is genuinely interested in negotiating away his nukes and suggested that the North will potentially demand the United States withdraw or significantly reduce the 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea, a major sticking point in any disarmament deal.

Accepting a cap now and working toward denuclearization later, as Mount advised, could be taken by the North Koreans as a signal of weakness because the US has insisted on swift and complete denuclearization. "Chairman Kim's firm commitment is expected to have a positive effect on resolving the Korean Peninsula issue smoothly in the new year", a presidential spokesman said on Tuesday morning.

"North Korea has always been adept at putting the onus for action on the United States, taking the initiative in a way that forces Washington to either react on Pyongyang's terms or look like the obstacle to progress", Mintaro Oba, a former USA diplomat specialising in the Koreas, told the Telegraph.

Seoul and Pyongyang have pursued several reconciliation initiatives in recent months, including projects to upgrade the North's outdated rail infrastructure and reconnect it with the South.

"There are views that North Korea wants a quick second summit because it thinks it can win major concessions from Trump that they probably couldn't from lower-level US officials, who are more adamant about the North committing to inspections and verification", the New York Post observed.

Related news