North Korea warns of 'new path' if USA 'continues to break promises'

by Garry Watts January 2, 2019, 0:56
North Korea warns of 'new path' if USA 'continues to break promises'

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since then, and Mr Kim's New Year address has cast further doubt on whether he is willing to give up the weapons after all.

Although there were no specifics behind the warning that North Korea may "seek another way" unless the USA makes a move, it's thought it could mean renewed missile testing.

Although the North did not conduct nuclear or missile tests a year ago, satellite images and leaked information from intelligence officials have pointed to ongoing activity at facilities in the secretive country. "He's exuding confidence that his country isn't hung up over the US, that they can still prosper without Washington".

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.

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest: "Kim Jong Un's message to the world today is simple: Pyongyang is clearly willing to engage in dialogue while working towards denuclearization with Washington and Seoul - but on its terms".

"If the USA fails to carry out its promise to the world... and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure upon the DPRK", Kim said Tuesday, "we might be compelled to explore a new path for defending the sovereignty of our country and supreme interests of our state".

Kim also signaled a willingness to continue improving relations with South Korea.

"We are willing to resume the Kaesong industrial complex and tour program to Kumgangsan without any preconditions or price, in consideration of South Korean businessmen who once worked at the complex and their hard situation, along with the hopes of our South Korean comrades who seek to visit our people's famous mountain", Kim said in his speech.

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David Maxwell, a North Korea expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, called the speech and setting "a brilliantly crafted performance". The two sides have clashed over the pace and sequence of talks, with North Korea demanding relief from global sanctions and the US seeking more steps toward disarmament.

Kim called for South Korea to "completely stop" joint military drills with the United States involving strategic assets, while multilateral negotiations among countries involved in the armistice agreement should be pursued to build a permanent peace regime.

Kim has warned Washington not to test North Koreans' patience with sanctions and pressure.

Kim used his New Year's speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with Moon and Trump. "Discussions on reducing or eliminating that arsenal come later", said Mount. North Korea spent 2018 trying versions of the stonewalling tactics and tricks it has used successfully against previous USA administrations, including supposedly historic concessions that actually did little to reduce its research capabilities or could be easily reversed.

In this year's 30-minute speech, Kim spent more than 20 minutes highlighting his new focus on the economy.

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 USA has insisted on swift and complete denuclearization.

In a speech broadcast by the North's state television, he said there would be faster progress on denuclearisation if Washington took corresponding action.

Since the first-ever summit between the USA and North Korea, little progress has been made as Pyongyang wants corresponding measures for the steps it has taken and Washington asks for more concrete steps before granting any quid pro quo. At the summit, the president hailed a new beginning in U.S. Private analysts have accused North Korea of continuing nuclear and missile development, citing details from commercial satellite imagery.

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