Kim Jong Un warns North Korea could consider change of tack

Kim Jong Un warns North Korea could consider change of tack

Kim Jong Un warns North Korea could consider change of tack

In this year's speech, broadcast on state television early on Tuesday, Mr Kim said "if the USA does not keep its promise made in front of the whole world. and insists on sanctions and pressures on our republic, we may be left with no choice but to consider a new way to safeguard our sovereignty and interests".

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since then, and Mr Kim's New Year address has cast further doubt on whether he is willing to give up the weapons after all. Kim has pledged that North Korea will not make or use nuclear weapons, and the initial détente process saw the dismantling of the only known testing site and a missile engine facility.

Duyeon Kim, from the Center for a New American Security, told CNN that the New Year's message was "confident" and "normal", but added that the message to the USA was clear: "He still sent a very firm word of caution, bordering a nuanced threat, that if Washington doesn't keep its Singapore promise and continues with sanctions, then he has Plan B in mind and will go his separate way".

He called last year "a year of stirring events that witnessed a dramatic change unprecedented in the history of national division spanning more than seven decades". There are views that North Korea wants a quick second summit because it thinks it can win major concessions from Trump that they probably couldn't from lower-level USA officials, who are more adamant about the North committing to inspections and verification.

It was not clear what "new path" the North Korean leader was referring to.

Kim and Trump vowed to work toward denuclearization and build "lasting and stable" peace at their landmark summit in Singapore in June, but little progress has been made since.

Dressed in a Western style suit, Kim spoke from a dark leather armchair in an office lined with packed bookshelves and paintings of his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather Kim Il Sung - a setting that resembled more intimate addresses from the White House by the US president.

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It came after a year of high tensions when the North made rapid progress with its weapons development, carrying out its sixth nuclear test - by far its most powerful to date - and launching rockets capable of reaching the entire United States mainland. "A deadlock in US-North Korea talks is likely to continue for now".

He called for the two Koreas to take more practical steps to establish peace after formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War by closely discussing the matter with the relevant parties.

There was no immediate reaction from the US State Department, but South Korea's presidential office welcomed Kim's speech, saying it carried his "firm will" to advance relations with Seoul and Washington.

But with Kim highlighting the need to turn further attention to economic prosperity in his speech, North Korea is also likely to continue to bring up such economic projects as a main agenda - even more than it did a year ago.

North Korea is subject to various sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions related to its banned nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programmes.

The Seoul government shut down the joint industrial complex at the North's border town of Kaesong in 2016 in retaliation for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile provocations at the time.

The Mount Kumgang tours were suspended after South Korean tourist Park Wang-ja was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in July 2008.

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