Kim Jong Un Announces ‘A New Strategic Weapon,’ Stops Short of Ending Diplomacy With US

By Patrick Goodenough | January 1, 2020 | 6:44pm EST
Kim Jong Un addresses the central committee of his Korean Worker’s Party. (Photo: Uriminzokkiri)
Kim Jong Un addresses the central committee of his Korean Worker’s Party. (Photo: Uriminzokkiri)

( – North Korea entered 2020 not with Kim Jong Un’s customary new year speech but with state media outlets reporting on a just-ended four-day meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party, at which Kim “confirmed that the world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future.”

In a speech on the final day of the party’s central committee plenary, the Stalinist dictator stopped short of announcing a halt to diplomacy with the United States, but said that the extent to which his regime continues to develop nuclear weapons will depend on the U.S. attitude going forward.

“The scope and depth of bolstering our deterrent will be properly coordinated depending on the U.S. future attitude to the DPRK,” an official report on the plenary cited him as saying. DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Accusing the U.S. of “brigandish” behavior – fresh sanctions and ongoing joint military drills with South Korea – Kim said there were no grounds for Pyongyang to remain unilaterally bound to the moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile testing. He announced the suspension in April 2018, ahead of a historic summit with President Trump in Singapore.

While Kim did not say explicitly that the moratorium was now over, his reference to the world soon witnessing “a new strategic weapon” seemed to point to that being the case.

According to the official account of the meeting, released by the foreign ministry, Kim said North Korea would never allow the “impudent” U.S. to abuse the bilateral dialogue to achieve “its sordid aim.”

It would instead “shift to a shocking actual action to make it [the U.S.] pay for the pains sustained by our people so far.”

(Photo: Uriminzokkiri)
(Photo: Uriminzokkiri)

Apparently alluding to Trump’s frequent descriptions of the bright economic future awaiting a peaceful and denuclearized North Korea, Kim said, “It is true that we urgently need [an] external environment favorable for the economic construction, but we can never sell our dignity which we have so far defended as valuable as our own life, in the hope for brilliant transformation.”

“We cannot give up the security of our future just for the visible economic results and happiness and comfort in reality, now that hostile acts and nuclear threat against us are increasing …”

Although he railed against U.S. policy and grumbled that joint military exercises had continued despite what he called Trump’s personal promise to him in Singapore, Kim did not attack the president directly.

Speaking to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, Florida on New Year’s Eve, Trump also refrained from directly criticizing Kim.

Asked what his message was for North Korea, Trump replied, “Well, we’ll see. I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”

He repeated an earlier remark about hoping that a “Christmas present” threatened by North Korean officials would turn out to be “a beautiful vase” rather than an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

“He likes me, I like him. We get along,” Trump continued. “He’s representing his country, I’m representing my country. We have to do what we have to do.”

But, he pointed out, Kim did sign a document in Singapore committing to denuclearization.

“I think he’s a man of his word. So, we’re going to find out. But I think he’s a man of his word.”

Trump and Kim met three times – in Singapore in June 2018, in Hanoi last February, and briefly along the inter-Korean border last June – but talks have largely stalled, and in a speech last April Kim gave the U.S. until the end of 2019 to adjust its approach.

That ultimatum, reported rocket engine tests at a launch site, and regime talk of a “Christmas gift,” stoked concern that it may either carry out a long-range of ICBM test, or announce a sharp policy shift like an end to dialogue or the moratorium.

Kim’s new year speech was therefore keenly anticipated, but judging from state media and official websites, he does not appear to have given one this time, instead hosting an unusual, multi-day plenum of the party leadership.

Kim took the reins after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011, and with the exception of Jan. 1, 2012, which fell just four days after the state funeral, he has delivered a new year speech every year since.

Those speeches have included both conciliatory gestures, such as his 2018 offer to send a delegation to take part in Winter Olympics in South Korea and advance the first North-South talks in two years; and threatening messages, like his 2017 announcement that preparations for a first-ever ICBM launch had “entered the final stage.”

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