North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his government to be prepared for both dialogue and confrontation with the Biden administration, but more for confrontation, state media reported on Friday.
It comes days after the United States and others urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and return to talks.
Kim’s statement indicates that he will likely push to strengthen its nuclear arsenal and increase pressure on Washington to renounce what North Korea views as hostile US policy, though it will also prepare for the resumption of talks, some experts say.
During an ongoing meeting of the ruling party on Thursday, Kim analyzed in detail the political tendencies of the United States under President Joe Biden and clarified the unspecified steps that will be taken in relations with Washington, the Korean Central News Agency said. .
Kim “emphasized the need to be prepared for both dialogue and confrontation, especially to be fully prepared for confrontation in order to protect the dignity of our state and its interests for independent development and reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the safety of our state. “
In 2018-19, Kim held a series of summits with then-President Donald Trump to discuss advancing his nuclear arsenal. But their negotiations fell through after Trump rejected Kim’s calls for extensive sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.
The Biden administration has worked to formulate a new approach to North Korea’s nuclear program that it describes as “calibrated and practical.” Details of his North Korean policy have not been released, but US officials have suggested that Biden would seek a middle ground between Trump’s direct meetings with Kim and former President Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” to curb the nuclear program of Kim.
Earlier this week, the leaders of the rich nations of the Group of Seven issued a statement calling for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and “the verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. They asked North Korea to initiate and resume the dialogue.
Sung Kim, the top US official on North Korea, will visit Seoul on Saturday for a trilateral meeting with South Korean and Japanese officials. His trip emphasizes the importance of trilateral cooperation in working towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the State Department said.
Kim has recently threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and build high-tech weapons aimed at the American continent if Washington refuses to abandon its hostile policy against North Korea.
In March, Kim’s army conducted its first short-range ballistic missile tests in a year. But North Korea still maintains a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests in an indication that Kim still wants to keep the prospects for diplomacy alive.
Kwak Gil Sup, director of One Korea Center, a website specializing in North Korean affairs, wrote on Facebook that Kim’s statement suggested he was taking a two-way approach to beefing up military capabilities and preparing for talks. But he said Kim is more likely to focus on increasing military strength and repeating his demand that the United States withdraw its hostile policy, rather than rushing back to talks.
Kim said last week that the North Korean military must remain on high alert to defend national security.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang from the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said North Korea will likely return to the talks, but will not accept a call for immediate and complete denuclearization. He said North Korea can agree to a proposal to freeze its atomic program and partially reduce its nuclear arsenal in stages if the Biden administration relaxes sanctions and suspends its regular military exercises with South Korea.
Cha Duck Chul, deputy spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry, said he is closely monitoring the North’s ongoing political meeting and wants to re-emphasize that the best way to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula is through of dialogue.
Kim called for the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee meeting this week to review efforts to rebuild its economy, which has been severely crippled by pandemic border closures, mismanagement amidst the US-led sanctions and storm damage to crops and infrastructure last year.
On Tuesday, Kim opened the meeting by warning of a possible food shortage and urging officials to find ways to boost agricultural production because the country’s food situation “is now becoming tense.” He also urged the country to prepare for extended COVID-19 restrictions, suggesting that North Korea will extend its border closure and other steps despite stress on its economy.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism