Great Marshall Kim Jong-un (North Korea’s head of state) has announced that his country no longer has the need to test any of its nuclear weapons or nuclear capable missiles and that furthermore, for the sake of international transparency, a nuclear testing facility in the DPRK will be closed. Kim has also renounced the aggressive use of nuclear weapons in war and has called on other nations to abandon nuclear weapons.
While these announcements have been reported as “breaking” and “history making”, they are in fact consistent with over a year of DPRK policy making. At a time when Washington and Pyongyang were still at odds, but when a DPRK-South Korea rapprochement was in its early stages, I wrote the following in January of 2018:
“The key event in prompting the wide ranging meetings held in early 2018 between officials from the two Korean states was the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. During the meeting in September of 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a tripartite economic/energy cooperation scheme which would involve both Korean states. At the time Moon, who was present at the summit, embraced Putin’s proposals without reservations while the DPRK delegation stated that they would sign up to the proposals in due course once various regional security concerns were met.
When taken together with statements from the DPRK which always made it clear that Pyongyang will be happy to negotiate with Seoul once nuclear parity with the US is reached, it is self-evident that Putin’s proposal along with subsequent diplomatic visits by Russian politicians and Foreign Ministry officials to the DPRK have paid off.
Now that North Korea and most objective military experts are confident in the fact that Pyongyang can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere on US territory, Kim Jong-un’s government will be satisfied with the fact that nuclear parity has been reached. In the context of North Korean statements, nuclear parity means that the DPRK will be able to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US with comparative ease vis-à-vis that which the US could deliver to Korea. Because this important threshold has been reached, North Korea is ready to take the preliminary steps towards rapprochement with the South. As North Korea always stated, its caution with the South has never been out of hostility to fellow Koreans, but due to the overwhelming presence of US military hardware in South Korea. Now that North Korea has achieved nuclear parity, this worry is clearly diminishing.
North Korea’s confidence in its ability to defend itself against US intimidation, Seoul’s revived Sunshine Policy towards the North, Russia’s good relations with both Korean states, combined with Russia’s realistic attitude towards East Asian matters, has resulted in Seoul and Pyongyang agreeing to march under a single ‘unity flag’ at the forthcoming Olympic Games in PyeongChang”.
To summarise, North Korea always said the following:
1. No negotiations with any party until nuclear parity is reached
2. Negotiations with other parties including South Korea and even the US is possible after nuclear parity is reached
3. Pyongyang will never be the first to launch a nuclear attack, instead Pyongyang has always stated that it’s weapons are for deterrent purposes and for self-defence
Therefore, the latest statement from Kim Jong-un is a clarification and affirmation of existing policy rather than a revelation, let alone a revolution in terms of policy. The only thing slightly surprising is the timing of the statement and of North Korea’s incredibly fast moving rapprochement and detente with Seoul. Kim Jong-un proposed inter-Korean rapprochement in his 2017 New Year’s Message and before the end of April, it is widely suspected that Pyongyang and Seoul will sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.
Kim also clearly feels that assurances from both China and Russia will help the DPRK to achieve a positive outcome in respect of its own security concerns about the US militarisation of Korea and consequently believes that long term de-nuclearisation is tenable. Furthermore, as Kim Jong-un has taken important steps to modernise the economy, even in spite of sanctions, Kim may well seek to reap the the economic fruits of a more globally active DPRK economy that could be made possible by the US agreeing to relax global sanctions. This too is not surprising as the DPRK warmly embraced Russia’s proposals for economic cooperation between Seoul, Pyongyang and Moscow made in the autumn of 2017. The only caveat was that Pyongyang would only begin to embark on a road map in respect of these proposals after nuclear parity was reached. Now that parity is reached, Pyongyang is ready for a more internationally robust approach to trade.
Taken as a whole, the DPRK announcement’s timing has caught many by surprise as events in Korea are moving at a lightening pace. But the content itself was easily anticipated based on multiple previous statements made by the North Korean government.
Below is the official report of Kim Jong-un’s statements in full:
“Kim Jong Un, chairman of the WPK, guided the plenary meeting.
Attending the meeting were Presidium members, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK and members and alternate members of the C.C., WPK and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.
Present as observers were members of the WPK Central Committee and party and administrative officials of ministries, national institutions, provinces, cities and counties, major industrial establishments and institutions and co-operative farms and members of the armed forces organs.
The plenary meeting dealt with the following agenda items:
1. On tasks of our revolution to further accelerate socialist construction as required by a fresh high stage of the developing revolution
2. On bringing about a revolutionary turn in the scientific and educational work
3. Organizational matter
The first agenda was discussed at the meeting.
Kim Jong Un made a report on the first agenda.
He said that the plenary meeting was to be convened to discuss and decide important matters for attaining goals of higher stage of socialist construction as required by the developing revolution and under the prevailing situation.
Saying that the overall situation is rapidly changing in favor of the Korean revolution thanks to the DPRK’s initiative action and efforts after the declaration of completing the state nuclear force last year, he informed that a fresh climate of détente and peace is being created on the Korean peninsula and the region and dramatic changes are being made in the international political landscape.
He said that the miraculous victory of having perfectly accomplished the great historic cause of building the state nuclear force in a short span of less than five years is the great victory of the WPK’s line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of a nuclear force and, at the same time, a brilliant victory that could be won only by the heroic Korean people.
He referred to the progress made in the economic construction along with the all-party, all-state and all-people struggle for implementing the above-said line.
He declared with pride that the historic tasks under the strategic line of simultaneously developing the two fronts set forth at the March 2013 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Party were successfully carried out.
He said that the victory of the WPK’s line was won and thus the struggle of the Korean people who worked hard with their belt tightened to acquire a powerful treasured sword for defending peace was successfully concluded and the firm guarantee by which our descendents can enjoy the most dignified and happiest life in the world was provided.
He said that no nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now, given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was finished as the whole processes of developing nuclear weapons were carried out in a scientific way and in regular sequence, and the development of delivery and strike means was also made scientifically. He added that the mission of the northern nuclear test ground has thus come to an end.
He clarified the WPK’s peace-loving stand to make positive contributions to the building of the world free from nuclear weapons in conformity with the aspiration and desire common to mankind, provided that the DPRK’s might was put on the level wanted by it and it became possible to reliably guarantee the security of the state and the safety of the people.
He said that today when the historic tasks listed by the strategic line of simultaneously developing the two fronts were successfully carried out, the WPK is facing important tasks to accelerate the advance of the revolution with confidence in victory and thus hasten the final victory of the socialist cause.
He clarified that at the present stage in which the DPRK was successfully put on the position of the world-level politico-ideological and military power, it is the strategic line of the WPK to concentrate all efforts of the whole party and country on the socialist economic construction.
He said that it is necessary to launch a general revolutionary offensive and make a dynamic advance in the economic construction under the uplifted militant banner of “Let us further accelerate the advance of our revolution by concentrating all our efforts on socialist economic construction!”
He noted that the immediate goal of the struggle for realizing the new strategic line is to keep production going at full capacity at all industrial establishments and reap a rich harvest in all agricultural fields during the period of carrying out the five-year strategy for national economic development and thus make the people’s laughter resound far and wide across the country.
He pointed out that the long-term goal is to put the national economy on a Juche, modern, IT and scientific basis and provide all the people with affluent and highly civilized life so that they can live as well as others.
He clarified the tasks for thoroughly carrying out the new strategic line, and ways for doing so including the issue of prioritizing economic work in the overall work of the party and the state, tapping all the human, material and technical potentials of the country for economic development.
He called on all the fields and units to thoroughly rely on science and technology, steadily improve the self-development spirit and effect production surge and leap under the unfurled slogan of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
In order to thoroughly implement the new strategic line on channeling all efforts on the economic construction, it is necessary to drastically enhance the role of party organizations, he stressed.
He urged the economic guidance organs including the Cabinet to occupy their position as the master responsible for the economic affairs, meticulously organize the operation and command for making rapid economic progress. He also urged all the fields and units to be unconditionally subordinate to the unified command of the Cabinet for implementing the economic policy of the party.
Speeches were made on the first agenda item at the plenary meeting.
Speakers were Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK, Pak Pong Ju, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and premier of the Cabinet, and Kim Jong Gak, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army.
Resolutions on the first agenda item were adopted with unanimous approval.
The resolution “On Proclaiming Great Victory of the Line of Simultaneous Development of Economic Construction and Building of Nuclear Force” specified the following decisions.
First, we solemnly declare that the sub-critical nuclear test, underground nuclear test, making nuclear weapon smaller and lighter and the development of the super-large nuclear weapon and delivery means have been carried out in order in the course of the campaign for implementing the party’s line of simultaneously developing the two fronts and thus the work for putting on a higher level the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets has been reliably realized.
Second, we will discontinue nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire from April 21, Juche 107 (2018).
The northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK will be dismantled to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear test.
Third, the discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process for the worldwide disarmament, and the DPRK will join the international desire and efforts for the total halt to the nuclear test.
Fourth, the DPRK will never use nuclear weapons nor transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear technology under any circumstances unless there are nuclear threat and nuclear provocation against the DPRK.
Fifth, we will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilization of all human and material resources of the country.
Sixth, we will create international environment favorable for the socialist economic construction and facilitate close contact and active dialogue with neighboring countries and the international community in order to defend peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the world.
The resolution “On Concentrating All Efforts on Socialist Economic Construction to Meet Requirements of New High Stage of Developing Revolution” clarified the following decisions.
First, we will orientate the overall party and state affairs into the socialist economic construction and put all efforts into it.
Second, the Party and working people’s organizations, power organs, law enforcement organs and armed forces organs should enhance their roles in the struggle to concentrate all efforts on the socialist economic construction.
Third, the Party organizations and political institutions at all levels should regularly control and review the implementation of the decisions made at the Third Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the WPK so as to ensure their thorough implementation.
Fourth, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet should take legal, administrative and technical measures to carry out the tasks set forth in the resolutions of the plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
The second agenda item was discussed at the meeting.
Kim Jong Un made a report on the second agenda item.
He underlined the need to bring about a revolutionary turn in scientific research and education, adding that the issue of concentrating all efforts on the economic construction would be unthinkable without the rapid development of science and education.
He said that in recent years our Party has made not a small achievement through active measures to boost science and education to suit the requirements of the higher stage of the developing revolution. He also analyzed and reviewed drawbacks in the fields of science and education and their causes.
He set forth the strategic slogan “Let us make a leap forward by dint of science and guarantee the future by dint of education!” and clearly specified the tasks and ways for putting spurs to building a scientific and technical power and a talent power.
Speeches on the second agenda item were made by Pak Thae Song, member of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK, Kim Su Gil, alternate member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and chairman of the Pyongyang City Committee of the WPK, and Kim Sung Du, chairman of the Education Commission.
The resolution on the second agenda item “On Effecting Revolutionary Turn in Science and Education” was adopted.
The plenary meeting discussed the organizational matter, the third agenda.
There was a by-election of a member of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee.
Kim Jong Gak was by-elected as member of the Political Bureau of the C.C., WPK.
There were recall and by-election of members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee.
Sin Yong Chol, Son Chol Ju, Jang Kil Song and Kim Song Nam, who had been alternate members of the Party Central Committee, were elected members, and Kim Jun Son, Kim Chang Son, Jong Yong Guk and Ri Tu Song were elected members of the Party Central Committee to fill vacancies.
Ri Son Gwon, Hong Jong Duk, Sok Sang Won, Jang Kil Ryong, Pak Hun, Ko Ki Chol, An Myong Gon, Ko Myong Chol, Kim Son Uk, Hong Man Ho, Kim Chol Ha, Kim Yong Gu, Kim Chol Ryong and Kim Il Guk were elected alternate members of the Party Central Committee to fill vacancy.
Recall and by-election of members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were held.
Ko Chol Man and Choe Song Gun were by-elected as members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.
Kim Jong Un made a historic concluding speech at the plenary meeting.
He said that the declaration of the victory of the line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of a nuclear force and advancement of the new line on focusing all efforts on the economic construction at the current plenary meeting is a great political event of historical significance in accomplishing the socialist cause of Juche.
The main spirit of the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Party Central Committee is to further accelerate the advance of our revolution under the unfurled banner of self-reliance on the basis of the great victory of the line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of a nuclear force and thus attain ahead of schedule the higher goal of the socialist construction put forward at the Seventh Congress of the WPK, he noted.
Stressing that the core and main principle of the new revolutionary line of the Party is self-reliance, he underscored the need to maintain indomitable perseverance in the spirit of self-reliance as ever and open up the avenue for prosperity and bring earlier the rosy future.
Our goal is to activate the overall national economy and put it on an upward spiral track and thus establish independent and modern socialist economy, knowledge-based economy, in the period of carrying out the five-year strategy for the national economic development, he stated.
He stressed the need to attach importance to science and education and develop them in order to achieve the higher goal of socialist construction by thoroughly carrying out the new revolutionary line of the Party.
In order to realize the revolutionary line and the policy of the Party, officials should make strenuous efforts with the strong determination and work hard with high abilities to put their fields and units on the level as required by the Party, he added”.