North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks war but doesn’t comment on nukes

January 1, 2016 8:01 am

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in an annual New Year’s speech
Friday that he was ready for war if provoked by “invasive” outsiders,
but stayed away from past threats centering on the country’s nuclear
weapons and long-range missile ambitions.
Kim’s comments, which
were broadcast by ’s state TV, largely stuck to the well-worn
propaganda meant to glorify him and his leadership for the residents of
one of the world’s poorest, most closed countries. But his words will
still be pored over by analysts for hints about the country’s intentions
for the coming year.
There is little public information about
the inner workings and policy goals of North Korea’s government, which
considers democratic South Korea and its ally the United States its
enemies, and is pursuing a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear
warhead to America’s mainland.
Kim didn’t directly offer
dialogue to Seoul and Washington, but said he was open to talks with
anyone truly interested in “reconciliation and peace” on the Korean
Peninsula.

He vowed to improve North Korea’s struggling economy.
Analysts
say Kim likely wants a push for tangible diplomatic and economic
achievements before a convention of the ruling Workers’ Party in May,
the party’s first since 1980, when he is widely expected to announce
major state polices and shake up the country’s political elite to
further consolidate his power.
Some had predicted that Kim would
avoid overly provocative statements in his New Year’s address because
the county wants to improve relations with South Korea and also China,
its most important economic and strategic ally. Ties between North Korea
and China have been noticeably cooler since Kim took power in 2011, but
China seemed to take a step toward mending relations when it sent a
senior official to a high-profile military parade in Pyongyang in
October.
The rival Koreas have been showing mixed progress in
reconciliation efforts after they stepped away from a military standoff
in August, which was touched off by land mine explosions Seoul blamed on
Pyongyang that maimed two South Korean soldiers. The countries ended
rare high-level talks last month with no breakthrough.

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