Seoul, South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal as he disclosed a list of high-tech weapons systems under development, saying the fate of relations with the United States depends on whether it abandons its hostile policy, state media reported Saturday.
Kim’s comments during a key meeting of the ruling party this week were seen as applying pressure on the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has called Kim a “thug” and has criticized his summits with President Donald Trump.
The Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying the “key to establishing new relations between (North Korea) and the United States is whether the United States withdraws its hostile policy.”
Kim said he won’t use his nuclear weapons first unless threatened. He also suggested he is open to dialogue if Washington is too, but stressed North Korea must further strengthen its military and nuclear capability to cope with intensifying U.S. hostility.
He again called the U.S. his country’s “main enemy.” “Whoever takes office in the U.S., its basic nature and hostile policy will never change,” he said.
Biden, who will take office on Jan. 20, is unlikely to hold direct meetings with Kim unless the North Korean leader takes significant denuclearization steps.
Cheong Seong-Chang, a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, said Kim’s speech showed he has no interests in denuclearization talks with Biden if he insists that working-level negotiations must sort out contentious issues first.
Kim didn’t cite any specific provocative U.S. actions. North Korea has previously called regular U.S. military drills with South Korea an invasion rehearsal, though the allies have repeatedly denied that.
The North Korean leader listed sophisticated weapons systems that he said were under development. They include a multi-warhead missile, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, solid-fueled long-range missiles and spy satellites.
He said North Korea must also advance the precision attack capability on targets in the 15,000 kilometer (9,320 mile)-striking range, an apparent reference to the U.S. mainland, and develop technology to manufacture smaller nuclear warheads to be mounted on long-range missiles more easily.—AP