Chairman Kim Jong-un has just delivered a major speech before the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Much of the speech was devoted to issues concerning DPRK-US relations within the framework of the current peace process. Relevant sections of the speech on this subject are reproduced below:
“In fear of the security of its own land in the face of the rapid development of the nuclear armed forces of the DPRK, the U.S. floated the idea of improved relations and peace at the negotiations and on the other hand, made desperate efforts to create the conditions for forcing the DPRK to drop arms and toppling its social system after making it run off its way through persistent application of economic sanctions.
Now that the U.S. describes its demands running counter to the fundamental interests of our country as conditions for the lift of sanctions, the stand-off with the U.S. will naturally assume the protracted nature and sanctions by the hostile forces will also continue.
Sanctions come to be a last resort for those forces finding it hard to bring down the DPRK by force, but constitute an intolerable challenge to the DPRK that can never be overlooked but must be weathered and foiled. As the protracted nuclear threats were done away with nuclear weapons, it is necessary to sweep away the whirlwind of sanctions by the hostile forces with the hot wind of self-supporting and self-reliance.
The strategic policy maintained by our party and the DPRK government in socialist economic construction is to put the national economy on a Juche, modern, IT and scientific basis.
The independent and Juche character of the national economy have to be augmented in every way.
We have to definitely turn the country’s economy into knowledge-based economy through an active drive for putting it on a modern and IT basis.
It is required to develop local economy and activate external economic affairs.
The economy of the country has to be carried out under the unified control, strategic operation and command of the state.
Talents and science and technology serve as key engines for the development of self-supporting economy.
The political and military might of the country has to be further increased.
The DPRK government should train all the members of society to be genuine Kimilsungists-Kimjongilists and further consolidate the politico-ideological unity and cohesion of the country by giving definite precedence to the political and ideological work as required by the intrinsic nature of the socialist society.
It has to perfect the legal system of the country and strengthen the role of laws in the state activities and social life.
Self-reliant national defence capabilities constitute a powerful treasured sword for defending the sovereignty of the country.
The climate of peace that began settling in the Korean peninsula is not durable and the hostile forces’ attempt at invasion of the DPRK has not gone.
We have to always keep in mind that peace can be ensured only by powerful military capabilities, and firmly maintain the principle of self-defence and keep increasing the defence capabilities of the country.
We have to bring into full bloom and develop socialist culture our own way.
The trait of giving top national priority to education should be established and the level of education of developed countries has to be outpaced by stepping up our-style revolution in education.
It is needed for the DPRK government to put particular efforts on the socialist health care.
The field of culture and art has to create more masterpieces reflecting the needs of the times and desire of the people, and the film field, in particular, has to raise a revolution in film-making in the new century and thus play a pace-setter role in opening up the new heyday of the development of socialist culture.
Physical culture and sports play a very important role in increasing the might of the country and demonstrating the resourcefulness and dignity of the nation.
Establishing socialist lifestyle and morality is a serious political struggle and an acute class struggle to defend and glorify our idea and social system.
It is imperative to enhance the function and role of the people’s power bodies in order to successfully carry out the huge revolutionary tasks facing the DPRK government, the Supreme Leader said.
Noting that our historic struggle for the reunification of the country, the long-cherished desire of the nation, has now entered a new phase, he continued:
The three historic north-south summit meetings and talks and the adoption of north-south declarations last year meant a great event of exceptionally huge significance that turned back the serious situation from inching close to a war and declared the start of a new journey toward national reunification.
Now the entire nation ardently hopes that the historic Panmunjom Declaration and the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration would be thoroughly implemented to lead to the continued peaceful atmosphere on the Korean peninsula and the steady improvement of the north-south ties.
However, the conservative forces of south Korea are responding to the desire of the nation and the unanimous expectation of the international community with untrustworthy words and acts and making desperate struggle to turn the north-south ties back to those in the period before the publication of the Panmunjom Declaration.
The U.S. is openly forcing the south Korean authorities to ‘control speed’ and moving in every way to subordinate the implementation of the north-south agreement to its policy of sanctions and pressure on the DPRK.
Because of this, we now face a serious situation of whether to defuse tension and keep maintaining the atmosphere of improving the north-south ties or to go back to the past when the ties plunged into a catastrophe with the danger of a war increasing.
I make it clear once again that it is my unwavering determination, as clarified before, to turn the north-south ties into those of durable and lasting reconciliation and cooperation by holding hands with the south Korean authorities and to write a new history of the nation, peaceful and co-prosperous, as wished by all the fellow countrymen.
In order to give further momentum to the good atmosphere of improved relations which the north and the south provided with much efforts after putting inglorious situation under control and to lead them to the meaningful result of peace and reunification, we have to put an end to the nature of sycophancy tarnishing the spirit of independence and the policy of relying on outsiders damaging the interests common to the nation, and subordinate everything to the improvement of the north-south ties.
I think that the south Korean authorities should come back to their stand at the time of the Panmunjom meeting and the September Pyongyang meeting and fulfill their responsibility before the nation through the sincere implementation of the north-south declarations if they truly wish for the improved north-south ties and peace and reunification.
The south Korean authorities should not act an officious ‘mediator’ and ‘booster’ that adopt a vacillating stand depending on the trend and engage themselves in an array of visits, but be a party advocating the interests of the nation with its own spirit and voice, being part of the nation.
It is our consistent stand that in order to give further momentum to the atmosphere of improving the north-south ties, it is prerequisite to foil the moves of hostile forces against reunification and peace at home and abroad.
It is important to understand before it becomes too late that it will be hard to expect any progress in the north-south ties and any result of peace and prosperity as long as the war-like south Korean military forces are left intact in their disguised persistent hostile acts including the resumption of the joint military exercises with the U.S. in other codenames, though they were agreed to be stopped, and unless a fundamental liquidation is put to the anachronistic arrogance and hostile policy of the U.S. which creates a deliberate hurdle in the improvement of ties while coming forward with unilateral gangster-like demands.
All the Koreans in the north and the south and abroad have to resolutely foil the moves of the U.S. and the south Korean conservative forces challenging the historical trend toward the improvement of the north-south ties and peace and reunification, for the sake of the destiny and future of the nation.
If the south Korean authorities have a true intent to head for the improvement of the north-south ties and peace and reunification, they have to sympathize with our stand and will and keep pace with them and take a bold decision proving their sincerity in practical acts, not in words.
The Singapore DPRK-U.S. summit and talks that were held in June last year for the first time in history in the limelight of the world served as an eventful occasion that instilled the hope of settlement of peace on the Korean peninsula where the exchanges of fire had been observed, and the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement commanded full support and approval by the international community desirous of peace as it marked a historic declaration that communicated to the world that the two countries DPRK and U.S. would write a new history of relations.
The DPRK took the first step of confidence-building, a key to defusing the hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. through crucial and meaningful measures like a moratorium on the nuclear test and test-fire of ICBM, and demonstrated its will to sincerely follow through on the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement, a landmark in establishing the new DPRK-U.S. relations through such a bold measure of facilitating the repatriation of the remains of GIs as requested by the U.S. president.
But the second DPRK-U.S. summit in Hanoi in February became an occasion which aroused a strong question if we were right in taking the steps with strategic decision and bold resolution, and evoked vigilance as to the U.S. true willingness to improve its relations with the DPRK.
At the second DPRK-U.S. summit, we expressed our decision to take more prudent and trustworthy measures after setting stages and courses indispensable for the implementation of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement and expected a response from the U.S. to it.
But the U.S. came to the talks, only racking its brains to find ways that are absolutely impracticable.
In a word, the U.S. did not ready itself to sit face to face with us and settle the problem nor had a clear direction and methodology.
If it keeps thinking that way, it will never be able to move the DPRK even a knuckle nor gain any interests no matter how many times it may sit for talks with the DPRK.
There are now open hostile moves running counter to the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement, as exemplified by the U.S. recent test simulating the interception of ICBM from the DPRK and the resumption of the military exercises whose suspension was directly committed to by the U.S. president. These seriously rattle us.
As wind is bound to bring waves, the U.S. open hostile policy toward the DPRK will naturally bring our corresponding acts.
Now the U.S. is strongly suggesting its thinking of holding the 3rd DPRK-U.S. summit talks and the settlement of the issue through dialogue. Yet, it is still shunning the withdrawal of its hostile policy, the fundamental way of establishing the new DPRK-U.S. relations, and miscalculating that it can bring us to our knees if it puts maximum pressure on us.
Of course we also attach importance to the settlement of the issue through dialogue and negotiations, but American-style way of dialogue to impose its unilateral demand upon the dialogue partner does not suit our constitution and we have no interest in it.
The U.S. is further escalating the hostility to us with each passing day despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue. It is as foolish and dangerous an act as trying to put out fire with oil.
Given the existence of deep-rooted hostility between the DPRK and the U.S., in order to implement the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement it is necessary for both sides not to table their unilateral demands but find out a constructive solution to meeting each other’s interests.
To this end, it is essential for the U.S. to quit its current calculation method and approach us with new one.
The U.S. is now talking a lot about the 3rd DPRK-U.S. summit meeting, but the resumption of such summit as the Hanoi summit is not inviting to us nor we have an intent.
But as President Trump keeps saying, the personal ties between me and him are not hostile like the relations between the two countries and we still maintain good relations, as to be able to exchange letters asking about health anytime if we want.
If the U.S. adopts a correct posture and comes forward for the third DPRK-U.S. summit with a certain methodology that can be shared with us, we can think of holding one more talks.
However, what I feel now is if there will be any need to keep an attachment to the summit with the U.S. just because of the issue of sanctions relief.
Anyway, we will wait for a bold decision from the U.S. with patience till the end of this year but I think it will definitely be difficult to get such a good opportunity as the previous summit.
Only when there provided written content favourable for the interests of both sides and acceptable to each other, I will sign the agreement without reserve and this depends on in what position and with what calculation method the U.S. would come forward.
What is clear is that if the U.S. persists in its present political calculation method, the prospect of settling the issues will be gloomy and very dangerous.
I anticipate that the U.S. would make a wise decision at the crucial moment today and hope that the second hand of the confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. brought to a stop with much effort will not run again forever”
A summary of Kim Jong-un’s main points is as follows:
1. The DPRK is prepared to walk away from the table if the US is not able to negotiate from a respectful and realistic position
2. De-nuclearisation and sanctions relief are indelible issues that must be treated with equal importance by both sides throughout the course of negotiations.
3. The DPRK continues to show good will be freezing all weapons tests whilst the US has become more demanding and less respectful in the year since the conclusion of the 2018 Singapore summit.
4. The personal relationship between Kim and Trump remains good but the overall relations between the DPRK and US at a formal level have diminished since this year’s Hanoi summit.
5. While a third Kim-Trump summit is possible, there is no realistic point in holding one until the US demonstrates both a shift in attitude and takes concrete action steps to meet the DPRK halfway in respect of sanctions relief in return for progress on de-nuclearisation.
6. The DPRK is not desperate for sanctions relief and will therefore work towards greater self-reliance rather than humiliate itself before Washington.
7. If no solution to the negotiation impasse between the DPRK and US is reached by the end of 2019, the DPRK will consider other options in pursuing future development goals and international relations.
8. At no point did Kim threaten any foreign state in his speech.
Taken as a whole, Kim’s speech offered a realistic assessments of the current state of affairs between his country and the United States whilst also confirming Donald Trump’s personal assessment that relations between himself and Kim personally are at a more advantaged stage than formal bilateral relations.
Kim further reiterated his country’s commitment to peace and de-nuclearisation but made it clear that making lopsided demands whilst clinging onto a policy of severe sanctions is simply not acceptable and that if the US does not change its stance in this respect, the DPRK will simply walk away from the table.
This overall assessment is not only rational but it speaks to a country that looks forward to both internal reform and a new era of good relations with the US. At the same time, the DPRK is not willing to make anything short of a win-win deal and is clearly not afraid to walk away from the table.
In this sense, Donald Trump who himself is famous for walking away from the negotiating table has met his match, although this is not necessarily a negative thing. Because both Kim and Trump are self-evidently tough negotiators, perhaps at a future meeting they can at long last thrash out a specific agreement that aims to achieve results that can be viewed as win-win by both sides.
Hope is certainly not lost in respect of DPRK-US negotiations, but the recent speech from Kim makes it clear that something more concrete than hope must be offered in order to advance the goals of the peace process.