SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly defended “self-reliance” as a mechanism for his country to avoid giving in to international sanctions at a time when the dialogue on denuclearization with the US is once again at a standstill, the state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday.
Kim made his remarks during the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling party on Wednesday, the report said.
“With our own power and technology befitting our conditions and the people’s economy based on resources, we should raise the banner of developing a socialist economy in a consistent manner and deal a blow to those bent on the misjudgment that they can bring us to our knees with sanctions,” Kim said during the meeting.
KCNA reported that the North Korean leader used the expression “self-reliance” – a concept strongly rooted in the ideology developed by the single ruling party over the last seven decades – 27 times during the meeting.
Kim may be mentally preparing North Koreans for a long negotiation with Washington after the failed Hanoi summit in February, which he mentioned in his speech, but in turn avoided direct criticism of Washington.
The disagreement in Hanoi centered on the number of North Korean weapons assets to be dismantled – in addition to nuclear, Washington advocated that Pyongyang also dismantle missiles and chemical and biological weapons – and the volume of sanctions on the regime that the US would lift as a corresponding measure.
Washington considered insufficient the offer made by Pyongyang, which requested the lifting of a good part of the sanctions in exchange for disabling its nuclear research center in Yongbyon.
The North Korean leader’s words were reported on the same day that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump are due to meet in Washington.
Seoul and Washington agree on the need to revive the stalled dialogue, but apparently diverge on ways to incite Pyongyang to implement real progress in denuclearization.
While Trump has been very forceful, Moon seems to be more in favor of progressively rewarding the regime for its progress and it is foreseeable that both leaders will address this during their meeting.
Also scheduled for Thursday was the inaugural session of the new legislature in the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, its parliament, where it is believed that Kim’s speech could offer new clues as to the direction Pyongyang now wants to take in its rapprochement with the US.