North Korea’s Kim Jong-un calls US ‘our biggest enemy’, calls for expanded nuclear capabilities
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and develop more sophisticated atomic weapons systems, saying the fate of relations with the United States, “our biggest enemy”, depends on whether it abandons its hostile policy, state media reported.
- Mr Kim vowed to expand ties with “anti-imperialist, independent forces”
- Mr Biden called Mr Kim a “thug” during the election campaign
- Mr Kim said research had nearly been completed on a nuclear submarine
Speaking at a rare party congress in Pyongyang just days before US president-elect Joe Biden is due to take office, Mr Kim said Washington’s hostile policy toward North Korea would not change regardless of who occupies the White House.
“Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the US, our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development,” Mr Kim said on Friday, according to a KCNA report of his remarks.
“No matter who is in power in the US, the true nature of the US and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change.”
Mr Kim also vowed to expand ties with “anti-imperialist, independent forces”.
There was no immediate comment from the US State Department. A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment.
Mr Biden, who was vice-president under president Barack Obama, called Mr Kim a “thug” during the election campaign and in 2019, North Korea called Mr Biden a “rabid dog” that needed to be “beaten to death with a stick”.
Mr Kim had three unprecedented meetings with outgoing US President Donald Trump and the two corresponded in a series of letters, but those efforts failed to lead to a denuclearisation deal or official change in the countries’ relations.
Mr Biden said in October that he would only meet Mr Kim on the condition North Korea would agree to draw down its nuclear capacity.
Last month, Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for East Asia under Mr Obama and seen as a contender for a top Asia policy position under Mr Biden, said the incoming US administration would have to make an early decision on what approach it will take with North Korea and not repeat the delay of the Obama era.
Spy satellites, missiles, drones and nuclear submarine
Mr Kim called for more research and development of advanced military equipment, including spy satellites, hypersonic weapons, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles and reconnaissance drones.
He also said research had nearly been completed on a nuclear submarine.
North Korea would not “misuse” its nuclear weapons, Mr Kim said, but called for expanding the country’s nuclear arsenal, including “pre-emptive” and “retaliatory” strike capabilities and warheads of varying sizes.
“Nothing would be more foolish and dangerous than not strengthening our might tirelessly and having an easy-going attitude at a time when we clearly see the enemy’s state-of-the-art weapons are being increased more than ever,” Mr Kim said.
“The reality is that we can achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula when we constantly build up our national defence and suppress US military threats.”
Besides US and defence policy, Mr Kim also spoke at length on proposals for a new five-year economic plan due to be announced at the congress, which he said would continue a focus on building an independent economy.
Among the plans are building energy-saving steel plants, significantly increasing production of chemical goods to make the industry self-sufficient, producing electricity and securing more coal mines, Mr Kim said.
North Korea faces growing crises caused by international sanctions over its nuclear programme, as well as self-imposed lockdowns to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
Addressing South Korea, Mr Kim criticised the administration in Seoul for offering cooperation in “non-fundamental” areas such as coronavirus aid and tourism and said the South should stop purchasing arms from and conducting military drills with the United States.
The remarks came a day after Mr Kim explored ways to renew inter-Korean ties and vowed to expand diplomatic relations in remarks to the congress.