The North Korean leader chairs a plenary meeting of the Party. The event precedes the expected New Year's Eve speech: an important policy change on nuclear and diplomatic relations is expected. Washington replies: "We have many tools with which to respond to the North."
Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - North Korea is threatening "offensive measures" to guarantee national sovereignty and security, reports state media this morning following of a large party meeting held for two days. The threats fuel fears that Pyongyang may abandon negotiations with the United States and restart important nuclear weapons tests.
From Washington, National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien warned the North against any provocation, stating that the US would be "extraordinarily disappointed" and ready to show its dissatisfaction. O'Brien stressed that Washington has "many tools" with which to respond to the North.
The plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party comes after Pyongyang has threatened to take a "new path" if Washington fails to offer concessions in the denuclearization talks by the end of this year.
The event also precedes the expected New Year's Eve speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in which the announcement of a major policy change on the nuclear issue and diplomatic ties is expected. Kim opened the party meeting two days ago and chaired the second day session yesterday.
The state run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports: “Emphasizing the need to take positive and offensive measures for fully ensuring the sovereignty and security of the country as required by the present situation, he indicated the duties of the fields of foreign affairs, munitions industry and armed forces of the DPRK”. The leader also called for efforts to improve science, education and public health; he seems to have emphasized internal issues, which experts say are in line with North Korea's push for a self-sufficient economy.
It is unusual for the North to hold a multi-day Party meeting. The plenary meeting is one of the highest decision-making bodies of the communist state, although it merely affirms the policy presented by Kim who has absolute power.
Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled for some time, after the failure of the second summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald J. Trump. The two leaders failed to find an agreement on how to combine Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's lifting of sanctions.
United Nations Security Council members will meet today to discuss a proposal from Russia and China to try to unlock the situation by lifting some punitive measures against North Korea. Washington previously refused to soften the restrictions.
Security Council resolutions prohibit Pyongyang from testing equipment that could be used to build ballistic missiles. With the impasse in the negotiations, North Korea has carried out a series of tests in recent months involving mainly short-range missiles. The latest occurred on November 28 last year, when the regime verified the operation of a massive multiple-launch missile system.