N Korea vows to be ready for confrontation with US

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his government to be prepared for both dialogue and confrontation with the Biden administration — but more for confrontation — state media reported yesterday, days after the United States (US) and others urged the North to abandon its nuclear programme and return to talks.

Kim’s statement indicates he’ll likely push to strengthen his nuclear arsenal and increase pressure on Washington to give up what North Korea considers a hostile policy toward the North, though he’ll also prepare for talks to resume, some experts said.

During an ongoing ruling party meeting on Thursday, Kim analysed in detail the policy tendencies of the US under President Joe Biden and clarified steps to be taken in relations with Washington, the Korean Central News Agency said.

It did not specify the steps. Kim “stressed the need to get prepared for both dialogue and confrontation, especially to get fully prepared for confrontation to protect the dignity of our state” and ensure national security, it said.

In 2018-19, Kim held a series of summits with then-President Donald Trump to discuss North Korea’s advancing nuclear arsenal. But the negotiations fell apart after Trump rejected Kim’s calls for extensive sanctions relief in return for a partial surrender of his nuclear capability.

Biden’s administration has worked to formulate a new approach on North Korea’s nuclear programme that it describes as “calibrated and practical”. Details of his North Korea policy haven’t been publicised, but US officials have suggested Biden will seek a middle ground between Trump’s direct meetings with Kim and former President Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” to curb Kim’s nuclear programme.

Earlier this week, leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations issued a statement calling for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and “the verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. They called on North Korea to engage and resume dialogue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a Workers’ Party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. PHOTO: AP