North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to strengthen his country’s nuclear arsenal as he delivered his closing address to a top ruling party meeting, state television showed yesterday, days before Joe Biden takes office as US president.
Kim is looking to grab the attention of the incoming Biden administration, analysts have said, with his country more isolated than ever after closing its borders to protect itself against the COVID-19 pandemic.
A nuclear summit between Kim and outgoing US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
Photo: Korean Central News Agency / Korea News Service via AP
“We must further strengthen the nuclear war deterrent while doing our best to build up the most powerful military strength,” Kim told the Workers’ Party congress, footage broadcast on Korea Central Television showed.
Thousands of delegates and attendees — none of them wearing masks — repeatedly rose to their feet in the cavernous April 25 House of Culture venue to interrupt his speech with applause.
Earlier in the eight-day meeting, which has lasted twice as long as the previous gathering in 2016, Kim called the US “the fundamental obstacle to the development of our revolution and our foremost principal enemy.”
Its policy toward the North “will never change, whoever comes into power,” he added, without mentioning Biden by name.
The North had completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine, he said — a strategic game-changer — and offered a shopping list including hypersonic gliding warheads, military reconnaissance satellites and solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Pyongyang’s weapons programs have made rapid progress under Kim, and at a parade in October it showed off a huge new ICBM that analysts said was the largest road-mobile, liquid-fueled missile in the world.
The change of leadership in Washington presents a challenge for North Korea: Biden, who characterized Kim as a “thug” during the presidential debates, is associated with former US president Barack Obama’s administration and its “strategic patience” approach.
The North has called Biden a “rabid dog” that “must be beaten to death with a stick.”
Kim’s latest comments built on his rhetoric earlier in the congress while leaving a door open for dialogue, said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
“It is a message to the US that it will continue to build up its strategic arsenal unless the US changes its course on North Korea policy,” he said. “If Washington treats it nicely, it will act nice, but if it treats it harshly, it will act harshly too.”
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have
GRID PROBLEM: A Taipower spokesman said that the blackouts were not due to usage exceeding supply, nor were they because of a problem at the Singda plant There were rolling blackouts across Taiwan yesterday due to a grid malfunction at the Singda Power Plant (興達電廠) in Kaohsiung’s Yongan District (永安), while Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said that it was working “as hard as possible to resolve the issue as soon as possible.” At 2:37pm, a malfunction at an ultra-high-voltage substation in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) triggered four generators at the Singda plant to go offline, cutting power output by 2.2 million kilowatts and prompting Taipower to initiate rolling blackouts nationwide as it worked on the problem. Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷抒) told a news conference in Taipei that