N. Korean leader warns of new way unless Washington takes reciprocal steps

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-01-01 12:02 Updated : 2019-01-01 14:10
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- In his New Year's speech intertwined with hopes and warnings, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened to find a new way if the United States misjudges his patience and clings to sanctions without reciprocating a series of proactive steps for denuclearization.

Kim expressed his determination to achieve denuclearization through fresh talks with President Donald Trump, saying relations would improve fast if the U.S. takes credible and corresponding steps in response to "proactive and preemptive" action taken by North Korea.

"I'm always ready to sit face-to-face again with U.S. President Donald Trump, and I will strive to produce the results the international society welcomes," Kim said in a speech broadcast by the North's state television. He sat down on the couch in an office decorated with the portraits of his father and grandfather to read his speech for about 30 minutes.

Kim warned he would take a different approach if Washington misjudges his patience and sticks to sanctions and unilateral pressure on Pyongyang.

"We will have no other choice but to look for a new way to defend the sovereignty and best interests of our country and achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula if the U.S. misjudges our patience and pushes for something unilaterally and sticks to sanctions and pressure on our republic without keeping its promises," he said.

If the U.S. takes credible and corresponding steps to North Korea's proactive and preemptive efforts, the two sides can improve relations with "great speed through the process of taking firm and innovative action," the North Korean leader said, reiterating his unswerving will to realize "complete" denuclearization as agreed in his summit with Trump in Singapore in June last year.

For progress in denuclearization talks, Kim stressed that Pyongyang and Washington should dump chronic claims and come up with "fair" proposals, based on the principle of mutually recognizing and respecting each.

Kim called for active multilateral negotiations to replace the truce agreement, which ended the 1950-53 Korean War, with a permanent peace treaty. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said that when complete denuclearization is achieved, a truce peace regime can be written to replace the 1953 armistice agreement that left the Korean peninsula technically at war.

At an inter-Korean summit in September, Kim said he would permanently dismantle facilities for ballistic missile launches and engine testing in the Sohae space center in the presence of international inspectors. Sohae has played an important role in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

U.S. officials have urged North Korea to take further steps for denuclearization. 
Talks, which were to take place in November in New York between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of the Workers' Party, have been put off. Trump has said his second summit with Kim could take place "sometime" in early 2019.