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

Post North Korea's warning Trump tweets looking forward to talks with Kim Jong
Kim warns North Korea could consider change of tack
Author

02 January, 2019

Last year's rapprochement came after a turbulent 2017 marked by North Korea testing missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland and an escalation in rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington with both sides trading insults and threats of nuclear destruction.

But in the 30-minute speech on New Year's Day, Kim also warned that North Korea may choose a "new path" if the United States continues to "break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure". He also added he is willing to meet US President Donald Trump at any time to produce results the global community would welcome.

President Trump has said he expects a second summit to take place as early as February but there has been no confirmation yet.

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

Washington is pushing to maintain the measures against the North until its "final, fully verified denuclearization". Over the past year, the North destroyed a nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri in the presence of worldwide reporters, returned the remains of USA soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War and released detained USA citizens.

"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, using the acronym for the North's formal name, "we might be compelled to explore a new path for defending the sovereignty of our country and supreme interests of our state".

Some observers said there was little news to emerge from the address.

He was willing to meet Trump again at any time, he added, "to produce a result that will be welcomed by the worldwide community".

After months of bitter acrimony and public name-calling between the two leaders, Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June.

Following the June summit, reports based on satellite imagery suggested that North Korea was continuing or expanding its ballistic missile production.

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Analysts said Kim's message sent clear signals that North Korea is willing to stay in talks with Washington and Seoul this year - but on its own terms.

For US officials expecting major concessions from Pyongyang, however, the speech may have been disappointing, according to Ko Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. At the summit, the president hailed a new beginning in U.S. The drills were scaled back in 2018 to encourage North Korea's turn towards diplomacy.

He also called for an end to joint military drills between the United States and South Korea and said no strategic military assets should be brought onto the Korean peninsula.

He called last year "a year of stirring events that witnessed a dramatic change unprecedented in the history of national division spanning more than seven decades". North Korea spent 2018 trying versions of the stonewalling tactics and tricks it has used successfully against previous US administrations, including supposedly historic concessions that actually did little to reduce its research capabilities or could be easily reversed.

He added that if the two Koreas join forces, no sanctions or pressure from external forces would be able to stop their efforts to "open a new road of prosperity for the people".

The leader's New Year speech is a key moment in the North Korean political calendar, reviewing the past and setting out goals for the future.

But while Kim Jong Un says he wants to continue along the diplomatic path, the clear hint is that without some response from the United States, the rapprochement witnessed a year ago may go into reverse.

However, Trump says sanctions placed on the nation would remain in place until North Korea give up its nuclear arsenal.

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. The program was considered an important source of foreign currency for the North.


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