January 02, 2019 09:59
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his New Year's address on Tuesday warned that his country may have to choose a "new path" if the U.S. "misjudges" the North's "patience" and maintains sanctions.
But Kim also said he is ready to talk with the U.S. "at any time."
In an unprecedented move, Kim delivered the address from a sofa inside the Workers Party building and sitting down rather than standing up. It was the first glimpse of his inner sanctum, which is a little reminiscent of Washington's Oval Office.
Instead of pledging to scrap his nuclear weapons, Kim only promised he will "no longer produce, test, use or spread nuclear weapons." But he reiterated that as stated in the joint statement with the U.S. on June 12, it is his "firm will" to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The statement suggests that Kim keeps trying to reinterpret the commitment as mutual disarmament that includes the U.S. removing its nuclear umbrella for South Korea.
Kim added that "joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as foreign strategic assets should be completely stopped," a reference to joint South Korea-U.S. drills.
The remark suggests Kim is trying to drive a wedge between the U.S.-South Korean alliance at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded that allies Japan and South Korea pay more for keeping American troops on their soil.
A Unification Ministry spokesman here said, "We welcome Kim's commitment to continuing to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, establish permanent peace and further develop inter-Korean relations."
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