Kim Jong Un has issued a stark warning to the U.S. over sanctions placed on North Korea, saying the country would have “no choice” but to act if Washington continues with its “one-sided demands.”
The leader said America must not misinterpret the patience of his people, speaking in a 30 minute speech that was aired on state television Tuesday.
President Donald Trump met Kim in Singapore in June 2018. At the time, Kim committed North Korea to “work toward complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. Washington and Pyongyang appear to have interpreted what exactly this means differently.
Kim said his country would not “create, test, use or proliferate nuclear weapons,” CNN reports. However, Trump says sanctions placed on the nation would remain in place until North Korea give up its nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang wants the U.S. to remove sanctions because of the steps it has already taken to dismantle its program. Kim also wants the Trump administration to stop carrying out military exercises with South Korea.
According to Sky News, Kim said: “Now that North and South Korea decided to take the path of peace and prosperity, we insist that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as outside strategic assets should be completely stopped.”
He said he would work towards “a result that will be welcomed by the international community” and said relations between the U.S. and North Korea would move at a “fast speed” if America was willing to work with his own administration. He also pointed to a potential second meeting with Trump.
However, Kim also said North Korea would have “no choice but to defend our country’s sovereignty and supreme interest, and find a new way to settle peace on our peninsula [if the U.S.] misinterprets our people’s patience, and makes one-sided demands and continues down the path of sanctions and pressure on our republic.”
Duyeon Kim, from the Center for a New American Security, told CNN that the New Year’s message was “confident” and “normal,” but added that the message to the U.S. was clear: “He still sent a very firm word of caution, bordering a nuanced threat, that if Washington doesn’t keep its Singapore promise and continues with sanctions, then he has Plan B in mind and will go his separate way. He’s exuding confidence that his country isn’t hung up over the U.S., that they can still prosper without Washington.”