Kim Jong Un vows to deliver ‘serious blow’ over sanctions

We must advance the socialist construction to a high level of self-reliance that fits our circumstances and state, said Kim Jong Un. (AP)
Updated 11 April 2019

Kim Jong Un vows to deliver ‘serious blow’ over sanctions

  • Kim’s second summit meeting with Trump in Hanoi in February collapsed

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to deliver a “serious blow” to nations imposing sanctions against his regime, according to the country’s state media.

His warning came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepared to hold summit talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington to find a way of injecting new life into stalled negotiations over the North’s denuclearization.

Kim’s second summit meeting with Trump in Hanoi in February collapsed after the two leaders failed to agree on how to match sanctions relief with progress on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim said: “We must advance the socialist construction to a high level of self-reliance that fits our circumstances and state, based on our own power, technology and resources.

“We must deal a serious blow to the hostile forces who are misjudging they can bring us into submission.”

Kim made his comments during an address to a plenary session of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party in the capital Pyongyang.

It was the first open remark by the North Korean dictator about the ongoing US-led economic sanctions following the breakdown of the Hanoi summit talks.

Kim, however, did not explicitly aim his criticism at the US, an apparent move to leave room for diplomacy with his American counterpart, who has boasted of his friendship with the North Korean leader.

Instead, Kim mentioned the word “self-reliance” dozens of times during the high-profile committee meeting, signaling his policy to weather sanctions that are reportedly biting hard among the population in the cash-strapped state.

In the past week Kim visited economic-related projects in his country, including a beach resort and department store, a move which analysts described as an attempt to demonstrate the resilience of North Korea’s economy against sanctions.

“Kim’s message is clear: Relieve sanctions first and then we’re determined to denuclearize,” Moon Keun-shik, a senior analyst at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a Seoul-based private think tank, told Arab News. 

“It seems his comments were deliberately made to put pressure on both Washington and Seoul to help lift sanctions ahead of the Moon-Trump summit.”

Pyongyang has wanted large parts of sanctions to be lifted in exchange for dismantling its major nuclear complex in Yongbyon and agreeing to a moratorium on its intercontinental ballistic missile programs.

But the Trump administration wants a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, including the abolishment of secret enriched uranium programs, before lifting sanctions.

As a “mediator” between Washington and Pyongyang, Moon is likely to use the summit to urge Trump to soften his stance toward North Korea.

“The collapse of the Hanoi summit means the collapse of inter-Korean agreements made by both Korean leaders last year,” said Prof. Kim Dong-yeop of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, in Seoul. “Moon has little option but to seek a breakthrough in the nuclear impasse. He will and has to persuade Trump to lift sanctions corresponding to North Korea’s denuclearizing steps.”

Speaking at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would like to leave room for a softening of some sanctions in case of progress on denuclearization.

“I want to leave a little space there. From time to time, there are particular provisions that if we were making substantial progress that one might think that was the right thing to do to achieve,” Pompeo said, referring to the potential relief of sanctions on visa waivers presumably for North Korean workers overseas.

On Wednesday, the US Center for Strategic and International Studies released recent satellite imagery of a North Korean military parade training facility on the east side of Pyongyang.

The pictures, captured on April 7, suggested North Korea may be preparing for a parade ahead of the official birthday of the nation’s founding leader Kim Il-sung, or April 25, the Korean People’s Army Foundation Day, the center said in a report. The activity included the presence of 217 military vehicles.

“A military parade displaying new weapons systems, including long-range ballistic missiles, may indicate the regime’s retrenchment toward a hard-line position and reluctance to denuclearize,” the report added.

However, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said: “We haven’t found any sign of the North’s preparation for a military parade. We’re closely monitoring North Korean activities in coordination with the US military, but it’s not proper to reveal the acquired information.”


Armenian, Azeri forces accuse each of shelling far from Karabakh

Updated 29 September 2020

Armenian, Azeri forces accuse each of shelling far from Karabakh

  • Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said 10 civilians had been killed by Armenian shelling since Sunday
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged an immediate end to the fighting in the region of Nagorny Karabakh

BAKU/YEREVAN: Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Tuesday of firing into each other’s territory, far from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, as the worst spate of fighting since the 1990s raged for a third day and the civilian death toll mounted.
Dozens have been reported killed and hundreds wounded since the fierce clashes between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out on Sunday in a new eruption of a decades-old conflict.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said 10 civilians had been killed by Armenian shelling since Sunday. There was no official information about casualties among Azeri servicemen.
The Armenian defense ministry said an Armenian civilian bus in Vardenis — a town in Armenia at the border with Azerbaijan and far from Nagorno-Karabakh — caught fire after being hit by an Azeri drone, but no one appeared to be hurt. It said it was making further checks.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians and is supported by Armenia. It broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s, but is not recognized by any country as an independent republic.
Any move to all-out war could drag in major regional powers Russia and Turkey. Moscow has a defense alliance with Armenia, which provides vital support to the enclave and is its lifeline to the outside world, while Ankara backs its own ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged an immediate end to the fighting in the region of Nagorny Karabakh in phone calls with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, her spokesman said Tuesday.
“The chancellor urgently called for an immediate cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table,” Steffen Seibert said.
Merkel spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday and with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday, he added.
The so-called Minsk Group of mediators, led by France, Russia and the United States, “offers an appropriate forum” for dialogue, Merkel said in the calls.
The UN Security Council is due to hold emergency talks Tuesday behind closed doors on Nagorny Karabakh, diplomats said.
Yerevan and Baku have been locked in a territorial dispute over the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorny Karabakh for decades, with deadly fighting flaring up last July and in 2016.