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Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer committed to halting nuclear, ICBM tests

By Thomas Maresca
Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer committed to halting nuclear, ICBM tests
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned that the country was no longer bound by a commitment to halt nuclear and ICBM tests and threatened the emergence of a new strategic weapon, state-run media reported on Wednesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that there was no longer any reason to be "unilaterally bound" to its commitment to halt nuclear and inter-continental ballistic missile tests and warned of a "new strategic weapon" coming soon, state-run media reported Wednesday.

In his remarks, delivered Tuesday at the end of a three-day meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party, Kim said that despite two years of "preemptive and crucial measures" of shutting down its nuclear and ICBM tests, the United States has failed to respond in kind.

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"[T]he U.S., far from responding . . . with appropriate measures, conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop and threatened the former militarily through the shipment of ultra-modern warfare equipment into South Korea," Kim said, according to the report from the Korean Central News Agency.

He added that the U.S. also imposed further sanctions and stressed that "under such condition, there is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer, the commitment to which there is no opposite party."

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Pyongyang declared a halt to nuclear and ICBM tests in April 2018, a move which led to the historic summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump two months later.

Kim Jong Un also "confirmed that the world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,"the KCNA report said. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Kim's provocative comments came ahead of an end-of-year deadline that Pyongyang has imposed for Washington to come up with a new proposal in its nuclear negotiations, threatening a "new way" forward if its conditions are not met.

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He is expected to deliver a New Year's Day address on Wednesday, an event that many observers will be watching closely for signs of an official policy shift toward a more confrontational stance with the United States and South Korea.

Talks with Washington have been at an impasse since a summit between President Trump and Kim in February in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended abruptly without an agreement. Both sides remain apart on issues such as easing international sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea and on a timetable for proceeding with denuclearization.

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The most recent working-level talks were held in October in Sweden, but little progress was made as North Korea accused the United States of coming to the table "empty-handed."

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Pyongyang resumed weapons tests throughout the latter half of 2019, launching several short-range ballistic missiles, including its first submarine-launched missile and a version of the highly maneuverable Russian Iskander.

Earlier this month, the North carried out a pair of what it called "crucial" tests at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station,which analysts suggested could be a long-range rocket engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

In his comments reported Wednesday, Kim did seem to indicate that the door was still open to resuming negotiations with Washington, which he accused of stalling for time and "double-dealing behavior."

"[T]he scope and depth of bolstering our deterrent will be properly coordinated depending on the U.S. future attitude to the DPRK," Kim said.

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