North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called the United States the “biggest enemy” and said Washington’s hostile policy toward North Korea would not change regardless of who occupies the White House, state media reports.
Speaking at a rare party congress in Pyongyang just days before US President-elect Joe Biden is due to take office, Mr Kim said dropping those hostile policies would be key to North Korea-US relations, state news agency KCNA said.
“Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the US, our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development,” Mr Kim said on Friday, according to a KCNA report of his remarks.
“No matter who is in power in the US, the true nature of the US and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change,” Mr Kim said, vowing to expand ties with “anti-imperialist, independent forces” and calling for expanded nuclear capabilities.
There was no immediate comment from the US State Department. A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment.
Mr Biden, who was vice-president under President Barack Obama, called Mr Kim a “thug” during the election campaign, and in 2019 North Korea called Mr Biden a “rabid dog” that needed to be “beaten to death with a stick”.
Mr Biden said in October he would only meet Kim on the condition that North Korea would agree to draw down its nuclear capacity.
Mr Kim called for more research and development of advanced military equipment, including spy satellites, hypersonic weapons, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, and reconnaissance drones.
He also said research had nearly been completed on a nuclear submarine.
North Korea would not “misuse” its nuclear weapons, Mr Kim said, but called for expanding the country’s nuclear arsenal, including “pre-emptive” and “retaliatory” strike capabilities and warheads of varying sizes.
Besides US and defence policy, Mr Kim also spoke at length on proposals for a new five-year economic plan due to be announced at the congress, which he said would continue a focus on building an independent economy.
“The basic seeds and themes of the new five-year economic development plan are still self-reliance and self-sufficiency,” he said.
Among the plans are building energy-saving steel plants, significantly increasing production of chemical goods to make the industry self-sufficient, producing electricity, and securing more coal mines, Mr Kim said.
North Korea faces growing crises caused by international sanctions over its nuclear program, as well as self-imposed lockdowns to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
Addressing South Korea, Mr Kim criticised Seoul for offering co-operation in “non-fundamental” areas such as coronavirus aid and tourism, and said the South should stop purchasing arms from and conducting military drills with the US.
The remarks came a day after Mr Kim explored ways to renew inter-Korean ties and vowed to expand diplomatic relations in remarks to the congress.