North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Wednesday he will continue developing his country’s nuclear deterrent and introduce a new strategic weapon in the near future, according to the North’s state-run media KCNA.
Kim’s remarks came after the United States missed a year-end deadline for a restart of denuclearization talks.
The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped North Korea would “choose peace.”
“So, seeing that reporting publicly, it remains the case that we hope that Chairman Kim will take a different course,” Pompeo told Fox News in an interview. “We’re hopeful that … Chairman Kim will make the right decision – he’ll choose peace and prosperity over conflict and war.”
Kim convened a rare four-day meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s policy-making committee since Saturday as the United States had not responded to his repeated calls for concessions to reopen negotiations, dismissing the deadline as artificial.
Kim had warned he might have to seek a “new path” if Washington fails to meet his expectations. U.S. military commanders said Pyongyang’s actions could include the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it has halted since 2017, alongside nuclear warhead tests.
There were no grounds for North Korea to be bound any longer by the self-declared nuclear and ICBM test moratorium as the United States continued joint military drills with South Korea, adopted cutting-edge weapons and imposed sanctions while making “gangster-like demands”, Kim said, according to KCNA.
He pledged to further develop North Korea’s nuclear deterrent but left the door open for dialogue, saying the “scope and depth” of that deterrent will be “properly coordinated depending on” the attitude of the United States.
“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,” Kim said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We will reliably put on constant alert the powerful nuclear deterrent capable of containing the nuclear threats from the U.S. and guaranteeing our long-term security.”
The announcement comes a week after the world braced for a “Christmas gift” that Kim promised to send to the United States. Trump downplayed Kim’s cryptic message and said that rather than a missile test, “maybe it’s a nice present.”
“Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump said. “I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”
Under third-generation North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near Guam.
Since 2011, Kim has launched more than 100 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.
Earlier this month, North Korean state media said that a “very important” test was carried out at a rocket testing ground. Trump responded to the report by tweeting that Kim risks losing “everything” if he does not take steps to denuclearize.
“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in 2018.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said on the heels of the test that denuclearization was off the negotiating table with the U.S. and lengthy talks with Washington were no longer needed.
— Reuters contributed to this report.