North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday at the third-day session of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party that the party determined “an arduous and protracted struggle,” spawning speculation that it will revert to provocative acts if the United States fails to come up with a “new path” regarding denuclearization and sanctions relief.
The “arduous and protracted struggle” stressed by Kim apparently indicates the regime’s strong will to seek a way out of the economic crisis on its own if Washington continues to keep the sanctions in place in the new year. Kim Dong-yeop, a professor at Kyungnam University, explained that the North seemingly intends to no longer count on an improvement of relationships with the U.S. or South Korea but go back to the path it used to take in the past.
In addition, Kim called for “positive and offensive political, diplomatic and military countermeasures for preserving the country’s sovereignty and security” on Monday, splitting the “offensive actions” he mentioned Sunday into diplomacy and countermeasures. Choi Yong-hwan, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), analyzed that Kim’s choice of the word “countermeasures” signals that rather than ditching the process right away, the regime will wait and see the next move of Washington.
Some say that the “political and diplomatic” measures may refer to closer ties with China and Russia. As the two countries have recently submitted a UN Security Council resolution that calls for sanctions relief, Pyongyang may try to seek ways to explore multilateral diplomacy based on its relations with Beijing and Moscow. The U.S. State Department said Monday (local time) now was not the time to discuss sanctions relief while China and Russia convened meetings at the UN Security Council to propose the lifting of sanctions on the North.
The North Korean leader presided over the three-day plenary meeting, the first multi-day plenum since he took office, and also suggested Tuesday an additional session would take place. However, the North has not clearly presented what would be their “new path.”
The Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that Kim “made a comprehensive report on the work of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, state building, economic development and building of the armed forces for seven hours at the plenary meeting (on Monday).” It also said that a process has begun to draw up the draft resolution of relevant agenda items and important documents to be discussed at the next session, hinting Kim’s New Year’s Day address would wrap up what was discussed at the multi-day plenum. Eyes are on now whether the regime will warn it could launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to showcase its strengthened self-defense capability.
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