North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed his country’s nuclear weapons as a powerful deterrent against military threats, state media reported, as prospects of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula continue to dim amid stalled talks with Washington.
“We have become able to reliably defend ourselves against any form of high-intensity pressure and military threat by imperialist reactionaries and other hostile forces,” Kim said during a reception for veterans marking the 67th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, the official state-run KCNA news agency said Tuesday.
“Thanks to our reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrence, the word war would no longer exist on this land, and the security and future of our state will be guaranteed forever,” the North Korean leader said in his speech.
Kim’s remarks come amid stalled talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington.
Kim and President Donald Trump have met on several occasions to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear programme, but have failed to reach an agreement.
Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said earlier this month that the president might seek another summit with Kim as an “October Surprise” ahead of the November presidential election, according to Reuters.
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to pour cold water on the possibility of another U.S. summit with North Korea, saying Trump only wanted to engage if there was likelihood of real progress.
Brushing away speculation that Trump could meet Kim ahead of the election, a senior North Korean diplomat also said this month that the country does not “feel any need” to enter into negotiations with the U.S.
But North Korea has shown its discontent with stalled talks by blowing up a liaison office — a symbol of cooperation and a permanent channel of communication with the South — in one of the most serious escalations of tensions on the Korean Peninsula last month.
The demolition of the liaison office came after North Korea condemned the South for failing to prevent activists from sending anti-North Korean leaflets across the border and axed all communications with Seoul.
North Korea’s already ailing economy is believed to have fallen on even harder times during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim on Friday ordered the total lockdown of the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea because of a suspected COVID-19 case.
North Korea officials have said the county has so far avoided any cases of the disease that has plagued the rest of the world, although many outside experts have questioned that claim.
Ed Flanagan contributed.