North Korea’s Kim pledges to strengthen nuclear arsenal - GulfToday

North Korea’s Kim pledges to strengthen nuclear arsenal


N.Korea’s Kim delivering a speech to conclude the 8th Congress of the Workers’Party of Korea in Pyongyang. AFP

Gulf Today Report

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed all-out efforts to bolster his country's nuclear deterrent as he delivered his closing address to a top ruling party meeting, state television showed on Wednesday, days before Joe Biden takes office as US president.

Kim earlier laid out plans to work toward salvaging the broken economy as he is looking to grab the attention of the incoming Biden administration, analysts say, with his country more isolated than ever after closing its borders to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic.

The eight-day Workers’ Party congress that ended Tuesday came as Kim Jong Un faces what appears to be the toughest moment of his nine-year rule.

Kim-Jong-Un-2LKim Jong Un delivering a speech to conclude the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. AFP

A nuclear summit between Kim and outgoing US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

“While strengthening our nuclear war deterrent, we need to do everything in order to build the most powerful military,” Kim told the Workers’Party congress, footage broadcast on Korea Central Television showed.

Thousands of delegates and attendees — none of them wearing masks — repeatedly rose to their feet in the cavernous April 25 House of Culture venue to interrupt his speech with applause.

Earlier in the eight-day meeting, which has lasted twice as long as the previous gathering in 2016, Kim called the US “the fundamental obstacle to the development of our revolution and our foremost principal enemy.”

Its policy towards the North “will never change, whoever comes into power.” he added, without mentioning Biden by name.

Kim-Jong-Un-MembersKim Jong Un (centre) meets with newly-elected members of the ruling party in Pyongyang.AFP

The North had completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine, he said — a strategic game-changer — and offered a shopping list including hypersonic gliding warheads, military reconnaissance satellites and solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The North’s weapons programmes have made rapid progress under Kim, and at a parade in October it showed off a huge new ICBM that analysts said was the largest road-mobile, liquid-fuelled missile in the world.

The change of leadership in Washington presents a challenge for Pyongyang: Biden is associated with the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” approach and characterised Kim as a “thug” during the presidential debates.

The North, meanwhile, has called Biden a “rabid dog” that “must be beaten to death with a stick.”


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Kim and Trump had a tumultuous relationship, engaging in mutual insults and threats of war before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance featuring headline-grabbing summits and declarations of love by the outgoing US president.

Kim’s latest comments built on his rhetoric earlier in the congress while leaving a door open for dialogue, said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.

“It is a message to the US that it will continue to build up its strategic arsenal unless the US changes its course on North Korea policy,” he told AFP.

“If Washington treats it nicely, it will act nice, but if it treats it harshly, it will act harshly too.”

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