SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said there will be no more war as the country's nuclear weapons guarantee its safety and future despite unabated outside pressure and military threats, state media said on Tuesday.
Kim made the remarks as he celebrated the 67th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which fell on July 27, with a reception for veterans, the official KCNA news agency said.
The country developed nuclear weapons to win "absolute strength" to stave off another armed conflict, Kim said in a speech carried by KCNA, emphasizing the defensive nature of the programs.
"Now we are capable of defending ourselves in the face of any form of high intensity pressure and military threats from imperialist and hostile forces," he said.
"Thanks to our reliable and effective self-defensive nuclear deterrent, there will no longer be war, and our country's safety and future will be firmly guaranteed forever."
The speech came amid stalled talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington. Kim’s comments show he has no intention of abandoning his weapons as prospects dim for resuming diplomacy with the United States.
Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, raising hopes for a negotiated end to North Korea's nuclear threats. But their second summit, in 2019 in Vietnam, and subsequent working-level meetings fell apart.
North Korea has previously ratcheted up fiery rhetoric or conducted weapons tests to wrest outside concessions. But some experts say Pyongyang will likely avoid serious talks with Washington before the U.S. presidential elections in November as there is a chance for a U.S. leadership change.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said Trump would only want to engage with Kim if there were real prospects of progress. Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, said a new summit would be "unpractical” for North Korea and that Pyongyang won’t gift Trump a high-level meeting that he can boast as a foreign policy achievement.
Kim entered this year with a vow to bolster his nuclear program and threatened to unveil a new "strategic” weapon. He also said he would no longer be bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests. Kim hasn’t performed such high-profile weapons tests, which some analysts say could completely derail diplomacy with the United States.
North Korea’s economic difficulties were believed to have worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led North Korea to seal its border with China, its biggest trading partner and economic pipeline, in January.
Kim on Friday ordered the total lockdown of the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea because a person there had suspected COVID-19 symptoms. North Korea has so far there has been no virus patient on its territory, a claim questioned by outside experts.
KCNA reported Tuesday authorities were swiftly supplying masks, medicines, test equipment, food and other necessities to Kaesong. It said authorities have boosted their border closures.
Experts say a pandemic in North Korea could cause devastating consequences because of its broken health care system and lack of medical supplies.