Kim promises to unveil a ‘new strategic weapon’

North Korea ends test moratoriums

January 02, 2020 02:36 am | Updated 02:36 am IST - SEOUL

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un

Expressing deep frustration over stalled nuclear talks, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned of unspecified “shocking” action and that his country will soon reveal a new “strategic weapon” to the world as its bolsters its nuclear deterrent in face of “gangster-like” U.S. pressure.

Mr. Kim also said North Korea was no longer obligated to maintain a self-imposed suspension on the testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which President Donald Trump has touted as a major diplomatic accomplishment. But Mr. Kim gave no clear indication that a resumption of such tests was impending and appeared to leave the door open for eventual negotiations.

Diplomatic stalemate

Mr. Kim has used the diplomatic stalemate to expand his military capabilities by intensifying tests of shorter-range weapons. His arsenal is now estimated to include 40-50 nuclear bombs and various delivery systems, including solid-fuel missiles designed to beat missile-defense systems and developmental ICBMs potentially capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

Mr. Kim has also strengthened his negotiating position, moving the diplomacy closer to an arms reduction negotiation between nuclear states rather than talks that would culminate in a unilateral surrender of the weapons he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.

Strategic weapons usually refer to nuclear-capable delivery systems such as ICBMs, but North Korea otherwise has been vague about what new arms it would display. It announced in December that it performed two “crucial” tests at its long-range rocket launch site that would further strengthen its nuclear deterrent.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. was deeply disappointed by North Korea’s threat to resume nuclear missile tests but wants peace rather than confrontation with Pyongyang.

“If Chairman Kim has reneged on the commitments he made to President Trump it’s deeply disappointing,” Mr. Pompeo said after North Korean leader declared an end to moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

“We have lived up to our commitments. We continue to hold out hope that he will live up to his,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

“President Trump has taken an approach where we have tried to create a diplomatic pathway. We hope that the North Koreans will reconsider, that they will continue down that pathway.... We want peace not confrontation.” Mr. Kim’s comments were made at a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee. (With AFP inputs)

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