North Korea has a history of testing new U.S. administrations, and experts anticipated leader Kim Jong Un would see how soon-to-be U.S. President Joe Biden responded to a provocation sometime soon after he took office. Kim didn’t wait for the inauguration, announcing last week that the United States remained his country’s “biggest enemy” and that his government would not give up its nuclear arsenal. As provocations go, it wasn’t much, but Biden better prepare for more. North Korea will not let the new administration make it a low priority. Kim will demand Biden’s attention and force difficult choices on the administration about its North Korea policy.

In a speech to the Congress of the Korean Workers Party (KWP), Kim charged the United States was hostile to North Korea and insisted, “No matter who is in power in the United States, the true nature of the U.S. and its fundamental policies toward North Korea never change.” That obliged the North “to tirelessly strengthen or national defense capabilities in order to deter military threats from the United States and achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.” Kim said his country would develop long-range missiles that can be launched at land or sea, and “develop the nuclear weapons to be lighter and smaller ... while continuing producing tactical nuclear weapons and super-large nuclear warheads.”

All these moves would be in the service of defense and diplomacy. Weapons were intended, he said, to “drive diplomacy in the right direction and guarantee its success.” But, Kim added, North Korea would not “misuse” its nuclear weapons and his policy would match that of the Biden administration, “responding to force with force, and to good will with good will.”