North Korea could consider change of tack, Kim warns

Posted January 02, 2019

Mr Kim was referring to his summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, when he said he had "fruitful talks" and "exchanged constructive ideas".

"I am willing to sit with the USA president any time in the future and will strive to produce outcomes that would be welcomed by the global community", Kim said, wearing a suit and tie and seated in a plush leather chair overlooked by paintings of his father and grandfather at work.

He, however, added that if Washington failed to deliver on its promises and continued enforcing sanctions, Pyongyang would have "no other choice but take a different path".

North Koreans' only had positive things to say about the New Year's speech.

In a recent letter to Moon, Kim wrote that he wants to "meet often" to "resolve together the issue of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula".

"Now that the North and the South have promised to seek the path of peace and prosperity, joint military exercises with foreign forces that give rise to tension on the Korean Peninsula should not be allowed anymore, and arms including strategic assets should not be brought in from outside anymore", he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump hailed his June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-un as a breakthrough, and has expressed interest in a second meeting.

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 U.S. citizens.

Seoul and Washington are in a security alliance and the USA stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it against its neighbor.

He also said he was ready to meet Mr Trump again at any time.

Clad in a suit and tie and sitting on a plush armchair, Mr Kim said bilateral ties would propel ahead if the U.S. were to "respond by taking trustworthy and corresponding, practical action".

After racing toward the goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States in 2017, Kim used last year's speech to warn that "a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office" and order mass production of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles. He also called for a halt to the deployment of "strategic assets" on the Korean Peninsula, an apparent reference to US bombers and submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons. These are the Gaeseong industrial park in North Korea, where South Korean factories use North Korean labor, and the Mount Geumgang resort in North Korea.

Kim stated that he doesn't want the test North Koreans' "patience" with sanctions.

"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". Parts of the lengthy speech also broke from Chairman Kim speaking and switched to highlighting the country's economic and technological advances to come.

The annual New Year's address is a tradition Mr Kim picked up from his grandfather, founder of the communist country, Kim Il-sung.

That resulted in a dramatic detente previous year, including three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the historic meeting with Trump in June.

Since the first-ever summit between the US 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.

A meeting between North Korean officials and U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo was cancelled by the North at the last minute in November and has yet to be rescheduled.

Mr Kim congratulated himself on his diplomatic activities during 2018, including meetings with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

"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 USA officials, who are more adamant about the North committing to inspections and verification", the New York Post observed.