North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday called on the country to prepare for “both dialogue and confrontation” with the U.S., according to the US-South Korean KCNA Watch, which tracks reports from North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KNCA).
Kim specifically stressed the need to “fully prepare for confrontation in order to protect the dignity of our state” and guarantee a “peaceful environment.”
Kim further called for “sharply and promptly reacting to and coping with the rapidly changing situation and concentrating efforts on taking stable control of the situation on the Korean peninsula.”
Kim’s comments come after President Joe Biden said in May that the U.S. would work closely with its allies to address the threats posed by North Korea through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.” While President Donald Trump did meet with Kim on three different occasions to advance denuclearization talks on the Korean peninsula, Biden said in May he “would not meet” Kim unless there was a concrete plan for negotiating on Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.
In its initial response to Biden’s May comments, the North Korean government had said Biden’s comments “clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy” toward Korea. North Korean Foreign Ministry official Kwon Jong Gun said, “Now that the keynote of the U.S. new DPRK policy has become clear, we will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the U.S. will find itself in a very grave situation.”
In April, the U.S. intelligence community assessed North Korea and Kim “may take a number of aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape the regional security environment and drive wedges between the United States and its allies—up to and including the resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing.”
North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests since 2006, with two tests in 2016 and the most recent test in 2017. Kim called the 2017 weapons test a “gift package” to the U.S. and said it has more “gift packages” for the U.S.
The April U.S. intelligence community report further stated, “Kim views nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent against foreign intervention and believes that over time he will gain international acceptance and respect as a nuclear power. He probably does not view the current level of pressure on his regime as enough to require a fundamental change in its approach.”
The report also assessed North Korea may continue to grow and modernize its conventional military, evade sanctions and carry out cyber attacks to further establish its “prestige, security, and acceptance as a nuclear power.”