North Korea aspires to good relations with the United States, but it could consider changing its attitude if Washington maintains its nuclear-related sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Tuesday at his address in New Delhi. Year.
This warning comes after the outbreak, just a year ago, of a remarkable relaxation on the Korean peninsula which was notably marked by a historic summit, in June in Singapore, between Mr. Kim and the American president Donald Trump.
This summit had been punctuated by a vague declaration in favor of the denuclearization of the peninsula. But little progress has been recorded since and the two capitals do not agree on the precise meaning of the text.
“If the United States does not keep its promise to the world and persists in sanctions and pressure against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), we may be forced to explore a new path. to defend the sovereignty of our country and the supreme interests of our state, “Kim said in a speech broadcast by North Korean state television, according to his official English translation.
He said he is ready to meet “at any time” the President of the United States to “produce results that will be welcomed by the international community.”
North Korea is under international sanctions because of its military programs.
– “Frustration” –
Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests and developed and tested ballistic missiles that experts say would reach the continental United States.
Washington demands a “totally verified” denuclearization of the North before sanctions are lifted, while Pyongyang has condemned the “gangster methods” of Americans accused of demanding unilateral disarmament without making concessions.
In his New Year’s speech, Kim “expressed his frustration at the lack of progress in the negotiations at this stage,” said former South Korean Vice Minister of Unification Kim Hyung-seok.
The North Korean leader “was obviously waiting for the United States to take even rudimentary measures after the North dismantled a nuclear test site and took other measures, but none of them materialized.”
“He is facing this urgent task of improving his” socialist economy “, which is impossible to achieve without lifting sanctions.”
In sharp contrast to his January 1, 2018 speech, when he advocated “mass-producing nuclear warheads and missiles” and “speeding up their deployment,” Kim said this time that the North had “declared that it would no longer produce, test, use or propagate our nuclear arsenal “, and asked the United States for” corresponding measures “.
The commitment to the production constitutes “an important evolution in terms of intentions, if it is confirmed”, estimated on Twitter Ankit Panda, of the Federation of the American scientists.
“All of this could lead to a temporary ceiling in warhead production as long as talks with the US last, but which would be removed if sanctions relief does not come,” he wrote.
– Clock –
The passage on the possible end of the production of warheads however did not appear in the first English version of the speech broadcast by the official agency KCNA.
The North Korean leader was sitting in a dark leather armchair, in a large desk adorned on a wall of a library and on the other portraits of his predecessors, his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim He Sung.
Behind him, a clock indicated at the beginning of his speech that it was midnight past a few minutes. But his dial was blurred at certain moments of the speech and the clock indicated that it was nearly an hour at the end of this speech which will have lasted only half an hour, which suggests that it has been recorded in several takes.
His previous New Year address was pronounced on January 1, 2018 when the peninsula appeared on the verge of nuclear apocalypse after two years of atomic and ballistic testing by Pyongyang. This speech had been the catalyst for relaxation.
A year ago, the North Korean leader had warned Washington that he had the “nuclear button” within reach, but he had also reached out to Seoul, citing a possibility of dialogue and participation in the Olympics in Korea. from South.
The South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was elected a few months earlier, was a proponent of the negotiations with the North, and he had seized the opportunity and 2018 gave birth to an exceptional inter-Korean rapprochement, marked in particular by three meetings between the latter. and Mr. Kim.
South Korea on Tuesday praised a speech she interpreted as a rehearsal, by Kim, of his commitment “to full denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, as well as the improvement of North-South relations, “according to a statement from the Unification Ministry.