Dictator Kim Jong Un said North Korea was no longer obligated to comply with a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In remarks Tuesday to party leaders-- and shared on state media Wednesday-- Kim also warned of introducing a “new strategic weapon” in the near future.
Kim's audience also heard him accuse the United States of making “gangster-like demands,” according to Reuters.
At times smiling or slapping the podium, Kim charged the U.S. with maintaining a “hostile policy” that included holding continued joint military drills with South Korea, adopting cutting edge weapons and imposing sanctions,
“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,” Kim said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name--the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, according to Reuters.
While saying he no longer felt bound to honor a moratorium, the rogue leader gave no clear indication that a resumption of such tests was impending. He also appeared to leave the door open for eventual negotiations with the U.S.
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 to 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.
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.
Lee Sang-min, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said North Korea carrying out its threat to showcase a new strategic weapon would be unhelpful for diplomacy.
Kim’s comments published in state media Wednesday were made at a key, four-day meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee as talks between Washington and Pyongyang have faltered over disagreements on disarmament steps and the removal of sanctions.
President Donald Trump said he had a good relationship with Kim and thought the North Korean leader would keep his word, Reuters reported.
“He likes me, I like him. We get along. He’s representing his country, I’m representing my country. We have to do what we have to do.
“But he did sign a contract, he did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.