North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is warning that the current goodwill with the United States could end if Washington continues to impose sanctions to force his regime to denuclearize.
In his annual New Year's Day address, Kim said it was his "firm will" that North Korea will no longer produce or test nuclear weapons, nor would it "use or spread" its arsenal. He added he was prepared to hold another meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump this year. But he said his country may have to take another path unless Washington takes "corresponding measures." He also called on the United States and South Korea to end all joint military drills.
Kim Jong Un and President Trump signed a vague agreement during their historic summit in Singapore last June, but further negotiations have stalled over Pyongyang’s demand for front-loaded sanctions relief tied to small progress, and its opposition to Washington’s call for complete denuclearization prior to granting any concessions.
North Korea is also demanding that the United States and South Korea first issue a peace declaration to formally end hostilities and replace the armistice that has been in effect since the Korean War ended in 1953. Critics worry a peace declaration could undermine the justification for the U.S. military presence in South Korea.
Despite Kim's warning, South Korea's Unification Ministry welcomed his address, saying it reflected Kim's commitment towards complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, and the continued improvement of inter-Korean relations.
Tuesday's speech was delivered exactly one year after Kim announced his willingness to send a contingent of North Korean athletes to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea the following month. The speech set off a series of diplomatic breakthroughs, including three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the meeting with President Trump.