North Korea to Trump: Don't test us

Geraldine Edwards
January 2, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned there will be consequences if the United States "continues to break its promises and misjudges the patience of our people".

"I am ready to sit down again with the US President any time and make efforts towards producing an outcome that would be welcomed by the global community", he said yesterday morning in a televised address.

The fact that Kim Jong Un's renewed commitment to denuclearisation was made not just to the outside world, but to millions of ordinary North Koreans, is seen as significant.

"It is the unwavering position of our party and the republic's government and my firm will that the two countries as declared in the June 12 joint statement. take steps to establish a permanent and stable peace regime and push toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Kim said.

He also said the USA and South Korea should no longer carry out joint military exercises - which have been largely halted since the Singapore meeting - calling such drills "a source of tension".

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He used last year's New Year's speech to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Mr Trump.

Kim called his June summit meeting with Trump "instructive" and said they had shared "constructive opinions" on mutual concerns and "speedy solutions to the tangled issues" they faced.

There was no immediate comment from the White House and asked for a reaction, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said: "We decline the opportunity to comment."

North Korea is subject to various sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its banned nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programmes. The US president has nonetheless pressed for a second meeting with Kim early this year, tweeting after an Oval Office briefing on December 24 that progress was being made. Noting that neither would be possible under current sanctions, the New York Post speculated Kim is still interested in driving a wedge between the us and South Korea by making offers that will push Seoul to demand sanctions relief for the North or unilaterally defy the sanctions. 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.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought a new look to his New Year's address - ditching the formalities of a podium and microphone bank to speak from a plush leather chair in front of a wooden mantle piece. Parts of the lengthy speech also broke from Chairman Kim speaking and switched to highlighting the country's economic and technological advances to come.

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A TV screen showing the New Year speech by Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on January 1, 2019.

Mr Kim also met with President Moon three times last year - twice at the border truce village of Panmunjom and once in the North's capital Pyongyang - and at the weekend vowed to meet Moon "frequently" this year.

As The Associated Press notes, North Korea "over the past months has accused Washington of failing to take corresponding measures following the North's unilateral dismantlement of a nuclear testing ground and suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests". North Korea is known to have developed at least three nuclear plants, including a five-megawatt reactor at its main Yongbyon complex producing weapons-grade plutonium, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

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.

"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.

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