North Korea to Trump: Don't test us

Posted January 02, 2019

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

"I am ready to sit face to face with the U.S. president again at any time going forward, and will make efforts to produce an outcome the global community would welcome", he said in an apparent response to a series of conciliatory gestures from the US.

This year's speech drew intense attention, coming as U.S. And he made it clear that he believed his agreement to "work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" included "strategic assets", such as America's nuclear-capable planes and warships. Both countries, however, have been at an impasse about the progress of denuclearization.

In what was the first time a North Korean leader met a sitting USA president, the two signed a vaguely phrased agreement to improve ties and work towards denuclearisation.

Overall, Kim's speech seems to have landed on the high side of analysts' expectations, with Kim claiming he is no longer interested in nuclear weapons research (he said North Korea has reached all of its goals in that regard) and might be willing to cap weapons production if the United States reciprocates in some unspecified manner.

Still, that summary did quote Kim as urging North Koreans to effect "a revolutionary surge on all fronts of the socialist construction by regarding self-reliance as a treasured sword for prosperity".

The North is subject to multiple sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions over banned nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programmes, which have seen it carry out six atomic tests and launch rockets capable of reaching the entire U.S. mainland.

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However, during the same address, Kim blasted the latest round of sanctions and intimated that they were a violation of promises the Untied States made during the last round of bilateral negotiations.

In the 30-minute speech, Kim spent more than 20 minutes highlighting his campaign to create a "self-reliant" economy despite a "harsh economic blockade".

In his address, Kim also conveyed greetings to South Korean people, noting the trend toward reconciliation, which resulted from his meetings with Moon in 2018.

Pyongyang has demanded Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War in response to its unilateral steps toward denuclearization - including a moratorium on atomic tests, longer-range missile launches and closure of key sites.

U.S. officials say those steps can be easily reversed and have not been verified, and Washington has slapped additional economic sanctions on the impoverished country. "He's exuding confidence that his country isn't hung up over the US, that they can still prosper without Washington".

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. Washington stopped some large-scale exercises with Seoul, although smaller drills continued.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned Washington not to test Pyongyang's patience with sanctions and pressure.

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

Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the feel was reminiscent of the image Kim showed the world in June in Singapore, when he held his first and only summit with President Donald Trump.

"We will never tolerate outside interferences and interventions meant to block our way toward reconciliation, unity and unification of our people while trying to make our relations scummy to their states and interests", he said.

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". Kim also wants the Trump administration to stop carrying out military exercises with South Korea.

That opened the way for the South's dovish President Moon Jae-In to play the role of peace broker. "This is, indeed, ridiculous", the commentary said.

The speech showed Kim's continued focus on direct diplomacy with Trump, who has complained about the cost of maintaining United States military support for South Korea. Trump wrote quoting PBS News Hour. Chairman Kim was open to talks that would be "welcomed by the worldwide community".

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