SEOUL – Hyonhee Shin, Soyoung Kim|REUTERS|AIWA! NO!|In a nationally televised New Year address, Kim said denuclearisation was his “firm will” and North Korea had “declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them”.
Kim added that Pyongyang had “taken various practical measures” and if Washington responded “with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions … bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace”.
“I am always ready to sit together with the U.S. president anytime in the future, and will work hard to produce results welcomed by the international community without fail,” Kim said.
However, he warned that North Korea might be “compelled to explore a new path” to defend its sovereignty if the United States “seeks to force something upon us unilaterally … and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure”.
It was not clear what Kim meant by “a new path,” but his comments are likely to further fuel scepticism over whether North Korea intends to give up a nuclear weapons programme that it has long considered essential to its security.
There was no immediate comment from the White House and asked for a reaction, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said: “We decline the opportunity to comment.”
South Korea’s presidential office, however, welcomed Kim’s speech, saying it carried his “firm will” to advance relations with Seoul and Washington.