Seoul | North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said his country should prepare for “dialogue as much as confrontation” with the United States, in his first reaction to new US President Joe Biden’s Korean policy.
Joe Biden, whose “hostile policy” Pyongyang denounces, does not rule out meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un one day, but stresses that he will not do so without clear commitments from the latter. Negotiations between the United States and North Korea have been at a standstill since the failure of the second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in 2019.
The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim “stressed the need to prepare for dialogue and confrontation, and in particular to be fully prepared for confrontation,” in a speech on his strategy toward Washington at a plenary meeting of the Party Central Committee.
The official agency said that the North Korean leader “called for a lively and quick reaction to the rapid development of the situation and to focus efforts on the stable control of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”
In May, Joe Biden criticized the approach of his predecessor Donald Trump, who met “Chairman Kim” twice, in Singapore and then in Hanoi, without tangible results. He insisted, “I will not give him international recognition” without his peers.
He then said he had “no illusions” about the difficulty of persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal, after an interview at the White House with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in.
“We have no illusions about the difficulty, there are no illusions at all. The last four administrations have not achieved the goal. It is a very difficult goal,” he told reporters, announcing that he had appointed veteran diplomat Sung Kim as Pyongyang’s special envoy.
North Korea has conducted six missile tests since 2006. It is the subject of several rounds of international sanctions because of its banned weapons programmes.
Cheong Seong-chang, director of North Korean studies at the Sejong Institute, said Pyongyang could now accept a “gradual reduction of its nuclear arsenal and a freeze of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.”
North Korea may resume nuclear testing this year in an effort to force the Biden administration back to the negotiating table, according to a report by US intelligence experts released in April.
The report analyzes that Kim “could take a number of aggressive and potentially destabilizing measures to reshape the regional security environment and drive a wedge between the United States and its allies.”
This could include resuming testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).