Takeaways From Kim Jong-un's 2018 New Year's Address

Herbert Rhodes
January 2, 2018

In his New Year's Day speech on Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un touted his country as a nuclear power which possesses the technology capable of striking the United States mainland. "He's developing nukes while trying to weaken global pressure and the South Korea-U.S. military alliance and get worldwide sanctions lifted", said Shin Beomchul of the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy. He also revealed South Korea has asked the United States to postpone the joint drills this year.

During the cabinet meeting, Moon said improving inter-Korean relations is not a separate issue from resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, ordering the foreign ministry to closely cooperate with its allies and the worldwide community to push for improving inter-Korean ties and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

President Moon Jae-in called for swift measures to realize North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games here on Tuesday, one day after the reclusive North Korean leader hinted at a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue to the end.

Woo Won-sik, floor leader of the Democratic Party, told this year's first party meeting that if the DPRK takes part in the PyeongChang Olympics, it will be held peacefully and can open a door to peacefully resolving the Korean Peninsula issues.

The war games usually begin in February or March.

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Kim said that rather than encouraging US measures that "threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula", Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and "stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces".

In an annual New Year's day speech, Kim said that "we sincerely hope the games will be successful". The United Nations Security Council last month approved its strongest sanctions yet on North Korea - a move that Pyongyang described as an "act of war".

Asked to comment on Kim's speech, U.S. President Donald Trump said: "We'll see, we'll see", as he walked into a New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce global isolation and sanctions against North Korea. But, he said: "The Olympic Games are about dialogue".

He continued that theme in his New Year's address, announcing that North Korea would focus in 2018 on "mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment".

His remarks come after both the US and the United Nations slapped repeated rounds of sanctions against the state in response to Pyongyang's aggressive weapons testing.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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