Kim Jong-un's new year message

Jan 03, 2019, 01:02
Kim Jong-un's new year message

In annual New Year's address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warns denuclearization talks could fall apart unless the US speeds up negotiations to ease sanctions on Pyongyang; Kitty Logan reports from London. Neither of those is possible for South Korea unless sanctions are removed.

"On part of the North Koreans, they see that they have improved the relationship, they have improved the atmosphere over the Korean peninsula, and they expect to see, at least, some easing of the sanctions and they are not seeing that", Andrew Leung, an global and independent China specialist, told RT, speaking about Kim's warning he would seek a "new way" if the USA does not reciprocate. The North Korean leader appeared to be gearing up to portray the United States as the obstacle to progress.

North Korea however would have "no option but to explore a new path in order to protect our sovereignty" if the United States "miscalculates our people's patience, forces something upon us and pursues sanctions and pressure without keeping a promise it made in front of the world", Kim said.

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

"Over the previous year, signs of continued work on the arsenal were alarming but not duplicitous, because there was never a commitment to stop those activities", Mount said.

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The speech showed Mr Kim's continued focus on direct diplomacy with Mr Trump, who has complained about the cost of maintaining USA military support for South Korea.

However, Kim's statement could prove problematic if there's ongoing evidence the North's nuclear and missile facilities continue to run. "That may no longer be true, raising the risk that the White House feels cheated rather than just stonewalled". The US president has nonetheless pressed for a second meeting with Mr Kim early this year, tweeting after an Oval Office briefing on Dec 24 that progress was being made.

The 30-minute speech was also shown live on South Korean television, in a sign of how much ties have improved between the neighbouring countries after several warm meetings between their two leaders over the past year. Private analysts have accused North Korea of continuing nuclear and missile development, citing details from commercial satellite imagery.

Kim met US President Donald Trump to discuss denuclearisation in June 2018 but with few results so far. Kim called for increasing electricity power generation in the country that battles chronic power shortages.

The South's dovish President Moon Jae-in, who played a role of peace broker between the two mercurial leaders, met Kim three times a year ago - twice at the border truce village of Panmunjom and once in Pyongyang.

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The Mount Kumgang tours were suspended after South Korean tourist Park Wang-ja was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in July 2008.

"To summarise North Korea's foreign policy strategy this year, it is to pressure the United States, to lead South Korea and to strengthen ties with China and Russian Federation", said Kim Heung Kyu, a professor of political science and diplomacy at Ajou University. Washington and Pyongyang appear to have interpreted what exactly this means differently.

While Kim stated today that he's seeking more concessions from the USA, there is no set timeline, nor plans for more talks between the two countries to continue, talks that have already been stalled for months.

Duyeon Kim, from the Center for a New American Security, told CNN that the New Year's message was "confident" and "normal", but added that the message to the US was clear: "He still sent a very firm word of caution, bordering a nuanced threat, that if Washington doesn't keep its Singapore promise and continues with sanctions, then he has Plan B in mind and will go his separate way".

The North Korean leader "obviously had certain expectations that the U.S. would take certain steps - however rudimentary they are - after the North blew up a nuclear test site and took other steps".

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