Kim Jong Un has signaled his intention to develop new nuclear weapons and describes the United States as North Korea’s “greatest enemy”, moves that threaten to escalate tensions with US President-elect Joe Biden.
The North Korean leader’s comments, held at a rare gathering of senior politicians in Pyongyang, marked the dictator’s strongest party against Washington since Biden won the presidency in the November election.
“Our foreign political activities in the future should be focused on the suppression and subjugation of the United States, the main obstacle, the greatest enemy against our revolutionary development,” Kim said, according to an agency translation. Korean Press Releases Yonhap.
Analysts warn that the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea represents a major foreign policy challenge for Mr. Biden, who is facing unprecedented domestic problems and a tumultuous situation. power transition.
“It’s quite clear that Kim is sending Biden the signal that dealing with North Korea will remain a tough challenge – whether or not the administration chooses to prioritize the North Korean threat doesn’t matter. for Kim, “said Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst in North Korea. now at Rand Corporation, an American think tank.
The Kim regime has announced a series of weapons development plans, including shorter-range “tactical” nuclear weapons, a new nuclear submarine and hypersonic missiles, another report by state media says. North Koreans.
Ankit Panda, North Korean weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the report “raises the curtain” on the recent modernization carried out “quietly” by regime scientists and the munitions industry, and also reported a return to dangerous nuclear weapons testing. .
“I find the explicit mention of tactical nuclear weapons disturbing. . .[that]would be a significant change in posture that could lead to dangerous changes in organizational command and control practices in North Korea, ”Panda said.
Pyongyang’s latest statements follow several years of unconventional U.S. diplomacy, including three face-to-face meetings between Donald Trump and Mr. Kim.
While the US president has claimed to have successfully blocked Mr Kim’s long-range missile testing since 2018, many international experts believe little progress has been made. denuclearization was done.
“We really see the check coming due on Trump’s reality TV diplomacy with Kim Jong Un – and it will be Joe Biden who will have to take the note,” Panda said.
Mr. Kim did not join other autocracies in jubilation in the United States on the violence that erupted in Washington this week.
But the 37-year-old dictator could later raise the political uproar in Washington to justify distrust of nuclear negotiations with the United States or to support China on global governance issues, Leif-Eric Easley said, a North Korean expert at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
The ruling party’s congress in Pyongyang has also been closely watched for a new five-year economic plan, following Mr. Kim’s rare concession in August on failures to meet long-term development goals.
New plan comes as North Korea faces its worst economic crisis for years, hit by sanctions and border closures resulting from the coronavirus, as well as damage from typhoons and flooding.
It defines the objectives of greater autonomy and centralization but offers little hope of improving the lives of the majority of the country’s 25 million people, analysts said.
Peter Ward, a Seoul-based North Korean economics expert at the University of Vienna, said the “anti-market” trend, which had been developing for several years, was now reversing. provisional steps towards economic freedoms.
“It looks like a recentralization of planning, both in the industrial sector and in public enterprises in general. We have seen ongoing discussions about restoring the public commercial sector and reasserting control over distribution – which is of great concern, ”said Mr. Ward.