Kim calls for corresponding United States measures, ready to meet Trump

Larry Hoffman
January 2, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is ready to meet US President Donald Trump anytime to achieve their common goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but warned he may have to take an alternative path if US sanctions and pressure against the country continued.

"I am ready to sit with the U.S. president again at any time in the future and will make efforts by all means to produce a result that will be welcomed by the global community", Kim said.

However, he warned that North Korea might be "compelled to explore a new path" to defend its sovereignty if the U.S. "seeks to force something upon us unilaterally. and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure".

Kim, meanwhile, also called for stronger ties with South Korea and announced a willingness to resume two inter-Korean cooperative projects in the North - Kaesong Industrial park and Mount Kumgang tourist resort - which had been halted due to strained relations.

On the other hand, Kim reminded his audience that he and Trump had agreed to proceed toward the "complete denuclearization" of the peninsula, and he said that remained the "unchangeable stance" of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

Pyongyang has demanded Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War in response to its unilateral steps toward denuclearization - including a moratorium on atomic tests, longer-range missile launches and closure of key sites.

The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year's message on the national TV.

Thus, the speech reaffirmed the negotiating lines since Mr Trump and Mr Kim's unprecedented summit in Singapore, with the two sides clashing over the pace and sequence of disarmament steps and sanctions relief.

"I don't think there's anything the United States can give the North Koreans to compel them to denuclearise in the short-to-medium term", Professor Nagy said. The moves - an about-face from the weapons tests and threats in 2017 - were telegraphed in Kim's previous New Year's speech, in which he offered to discuss participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The North is demanding sanctions relief - it is subject to multiple measures over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes - and has condemned USA insistence on its nuclear disarmament as "gangster-like".

A rapid sequence of developments followed, with athletes and a senior delegation led by Kim's powerful sister going to the Pyeongchang Games in February, before Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of the Singapore summit with Trump.

On Sunday he also wrote a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae In, in which he said he wanted to meet Moon more frequently in 2019 in order to push forward their talks on "peace and prosperity".

"I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!" he added.

Much of Kim's speech Tuesday focussed on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task. Still, there has been no indication that the USA can lift some of the sanctions it has imposed on North Korea, either unilaterally, or in concert with other countries.

Mr Kim also said the U.S. should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South.

North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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