Kim Ready To Talk More With Trump But Says Not To Test North Korea

January 01, 2019 - 2:16 pm
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Tuesday he hopes to extend his high-stakes nuclear summitry with President Donald Trump into 2019, but also warned Washington not to test North Koreans' patience with sanctions and pressure.

During his televised New Year's speech, Kim said he's ready to meet with Trump at any time to produce an outcome "welcomed by the international community." However, he said the North will be forced to take a different path if the United States "continues to break its promises and misjudges the patience of our people by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure."

Kim also said the United States should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South. He also made a nationalistic call urging for stronger inter-Korean cooperation and said the North is ready to resume operations at a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restart South Korean tours to the North's Diamond Mountain resort. Neither of those is possible for South Korea unless sanctions are removed.

Some analysts say North Korea has been trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul while putting the larger burden of action on the United States. Pyongyang over the past months has accused Washington of failing to take corresponding measures following the North's unilateral dismantlement of a nuclear testing ground and suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Washington and Pyongyang are trying to arrange a second summit between Trump and Kim, who met in Singapore on June 12.

"If the United States takes sincere measures and corresponding action to our leading and pre-emptive efforts, then (U.S.-North Korea) relations will advance at a fast and excellent pace through the process of implementing (such) definite and groundbreaking measures," said Kim, who delivered the speech sitting on a leather chair, wearing a black suit and gray-blue tie.

"It is the unwavering position of our party and the republic's government and my firm will that the two countries as declared in the June 12 joint statement ... take steps to establish a permanent and stable peace regime and push toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said. "Therefore, we have already declared domestically and internationally and took various actions showing our commitment that we will no further create or test nuclear weapons and will not use or spread them."

Adam Mount, a senior analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said Kim appears to be hinting at an agreement that falls short of a full disarmament, but could still represent a major limitation of the North Korean threat — a cap that essentially freezes the North's rudimentary nuclear capability from growing or advancing further. In exchange, the United States would have to offer major inducements, including sanctions relief.