North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has warned top ruling party officials of the “grave situation” facing the nuclear-armed state’s economy and called for urgent corrective measures.
His comments, reported Monday by state media, came on the second day of a key party meeting held ahead of a year-end deadline for Washington to shift its stance on stalled nuclear talks with Pyongyang.
#KimJongUn called for his advisors to prepare unspecified “offensive measures” to protect the country’s security and sovereignty, before his year-end deadline for the #Trump administration to make major concessions to salvage a fragile nuclear diplomacy.https://t.co/AcgbXxXq3v
— Firstpost (@firstpost) December 30, 2019
Kim, who chaired the meeting, said the time had come to bring about a “decisive turn” in the North’s economic development.
He presented the assembled officials with “tasks for urgently correcting the grave situation of the major industrial sectors of the national economy,” the official KCNA news agency reported.
The North does not publish economic statistics of its own, leaving outside estimates as the only available figures for its financial performance.
In July, the South Korean central bank estimated that the North’s sanctions-hit economy had shrunk by 4.1 percent in 2018 — the largest contractions since the devastating famine of the 1990s.
🇰🇵 The second-day session of the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea continued on Sunday.#KimJongUn analyzed the state management and economic construction, emphasizing the need to take positive and offensive measures. by 董海涛 #DPRK pic.twitter.com/GvR41yFJUL
— CCTV Asia Pacific (@CCTVAsiaPacific) December 30, 2019
Talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula have been largely deadlocked since a second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed in Hanoi at the start of this year over what the North was willing to give in return for sanctions relief.
China and Russia — the North’s biggest economic partners — have proposed the easing of UN sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear weapons programme, and Pyongyang has given Washington until the end of the year to offer fresh concessions.
Read more: Did N. Korea’s Kim put potatoes over Pompeo?
The KCNA report indicated the plenary session of the party leadership was headed into a third day Monday — marking the first time since 1990 that it has lasted more than two days.
“Pyongyang’s decision to host the plenary event for multiple days illustrates how gravely it views internal and external situations,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the private Sejong Institute.
North Korea vs US
North Korea warned the United States earlier this month that if nuclear arms talks are not resumed before the end of the year, it may not be happy with the “Christmas gift” delivered by leader Kim Jong Un.
A US Army base in South Korea accidentally sounded its alert siren on Thursday night, inadvertently stirring anxieties at a time when North Korea is threatening a "Christmas gift." https://t.co/MF8diyn7Du
— CNN (@CNN) December 27, 2019
The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.
Washington, for its part, has not voiced increased alarm over the status of talks with North Korea.
The United States and South Korea say tightening international sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs
Speaking in London on the sidelines of a NATO summit Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said “we’ll see what happens” when it comes to North Korea.
“My relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good, but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed,” Trump said. “I hope he lives up to the agreement, but we’re going to find out,” added Trump.
“(Kim Jong Un) definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him “Rocket Man.”
The United States and South Korea say tightening international sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs have been instrumental in leader Kim Jong Un’s decision to pursue denuclearization talks with the United States.
North Korea has sought relief from the sanctions, but denies that it has or will ever be politically swayed by them.
GVS News Desk with additions from news agencies.