North Korean Kim Says US Is Pyongyang’s “Biggest Enemy”

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Seoul (AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said the United States is his nation’s nuclear nation’s “greatest enemy”, state media reported on Saturday, in comments that throw the diplomatic gauntlet at Joe’s new administration. Biden.

The statement comes less than two weeks before the inauguration of the new US president and after a tumultuous relationship between Kim and outgoing leader Donald Trump.

Kim and Trump first engaged in a war of words and mutual threats, before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance that featured headline summits and declarations of love from the US president.

But little substantial progress has been made, with the process stalled following the failure of their February 2019 meeting in Hanoi on sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

The North “should focus and develop on the subversion of the United States, the greatest obstacle to our revolution and our greatest enemy,” Kim said at the quinquennial convention of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, reported the official news agency KCNA.

“No matter who is in power, the true nature of his policy against North Korea will never change,” he said, not mentioning Biden by name.

The comments will be viewed as a statement of defiance against the new US administration.

The change in leadership in Washington presents a challenge for Pyongyang, who previously called Biden a “rabid dog” when he called Kim a “thug” during presidential debates.

The United States is expected to revert to more orthodox diplomatic approaches under Biden, such as insisting on significant progress in labor talks before any leaders’ summit can be considered.

The process with Trump was negotiated by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but Kim said Seoul was in violation of the inter-Korean agreements and “ignoring our warnings that it should stop joint military exercises with states. -United “.

– Strategic balance –

Pyongyang has invested huge amounts of resources in developing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, which it says it needs to defend against a possible US invasion.

Programs have made rapid progress under Kim, including by far his most powerful nuclear explosion to date and missiles capable of reaching the entire Americas, at the cost of increasingly severe international sanctions.

During a military parade in October, it showed off a huge new missile that analysts said was the world’s largest road and liquid-fuel mobile missile, and was most likely designed to carry multiple warheads in re-entry vehicles. independent. (MIRV).

The North has also completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine, Kim said – which would shift the strategic balance.

Such a weapon, if built and put into service, could allow Pyongyang to surreptitiously bring its missiles closer to the United States, thereby reducing warning times before any launch.

The design of the ship was “at the final review stage,” Kim said.

The country should “further advance nuclear technology” and develop light nuclear warheads of small size “to be applied differently depending on the subjects targeted”, he added.

The comments came in Kim’s nine-hour work report at the three-day meeting, which KCNA was reporting in detail for the first time.

Congress is the main gathering of the ruling party, a great political centerpiece that strengthens the authority of the regime and can serve as a platform for announcements of policy changes or elite personnel changes.

For several days, state television has been showing footage of the 7,000 delegates and participants crammed into the cavernous hall of the April 25 Culture House – none of them wearing masks – repeatedly applauding Kim during her speech .

The rally comes with North Korea more isolated than ever after its borders were closed last January to protect against the coronavirus that first emerged in neighboring and key ally China.

This added to the pressures on the North, the blockade of Pyongyang itself far more effective than even the most staunch supporter of sanctions could ever hope to secure, and trade with China at a fraction of the usual level.

In her work report, Kim admitted that mistakes had been made over the past five years and that “almost all sectors fell short of meeting targets” in the country’s economic plan.

Satellite images suggest the meeting could be followed by a parade “with military elements”, according to reports.

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