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North Korea's Kim says America is Pyongyang's 'greatest enemy'

North Korea's Kim says America is Pyongyang's 'greatest enemy'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the United States is his nation's "greatest enemy" with nuclear weapons, state media reported on Saturday, as he threw the diplomatic gauntlet at the incoming Joe Biden administration.

The statement comes less than two weeks before the new US president's inauguration and after a tumultuous relationship between Kim and outgoing leader Donald Trump.

Kim and Trump first engaged in a war of words and mutual threats, before an extraordinary diplomatic bromance that featured headline-grabbing summits and declarations of love from the US president.

But little substantial progress was made, with the process stalled after their February 2019 meeting in Hanoi broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

The North "should focus and develop on subverting America, the greatest obstacle to our revolution and our greatest enemy," Kim told the five-year congress of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported.

"No matter who is in power, the true nature of its policy against North Korea will never change," he said, quoting Biden, without mentioning his name.

"The check has expired at the Singapore and Hanoi Summits," tweeted Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment. "And the Biden administration pays the bill."

The leadership change in Washington presents a challenge for Pyongyang, which previously called Biden a "mad dog" while characterizing Kim as a "bully" during presidential debates.

The United States is expected to return to more orthodox diplomatic approaches under Biden, such as insisting on great progress in working-level talks before any leaders' summits can be considered.

Kim "sees a stalemate that won't change anytime soon," said Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest.

The process with Trump was negotiated by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but Kim said Seoul was violating inter-Korean agreements and "ignoring our warnings that it should stop joint military exercises with the United States."

- Strategic balance -

Pyongyang has invested vast resources in developing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, which it says it needs to defend itself against a possible US invasion.

Programs have progressed rapidly under the Kim administration, including by far its most powerful nuclear explosion to date and missiles capable of reaching the entire continental United States, at the cost of increasingly stringent international sanctions.

At a military parade in October, he displayed a huge new missile that analysts said was the world's largest mobile liquid-fueled missile, and was most likely designed to carry multiple warheads on independent reentry vehicles. (MIRV).

The North has also completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine, Kim said, something that would shift the strategic balance.

Such a weapon, if built and brought into service, could allow Pyongyang to surreptitiously bring its missiles closer to the United States, reducing warning times before any launch.

The ship's designs were "in the final examination stage," Kim said, adding that North Korea was also researching technology, including military reconnaissance satellites, supersonic glide weapons and various types of warheads, and was "making preparations. for your testing and production. "

The Biden administration is unlikely to react strongly to Kim's comments as they were "just words," Cho Seong-ryoul of the National Security Strategy Institute in Seoul told AFP.

"But if North Korea takes them into action with provocations or launches, I expect it to respond harshly."

- Work report -

Kim's remarks came in her nine-hour work report to the meeting, spread over three days, which KCNA reported in detail for the first time.

The congress is the main meeting of the ruling party, a large political arena that reinforces the authority of the regime and can serve as a platform for announcements of policy changes or elite personnel changes.

For several days, state television has been showing images of the 7,000 delegates and attendees huddled in the cavernous venue of the House of Culture on April 25, none of them wearing masks, repeatedly applauding Kim wildly during his speech.

The meeting comes with North Korea more isolated than ever after closing its borders last January to protect itself against the coronavirus that first emerged in neighboring and ally China.

That has added to pressures on the North, with Pyongyang blocking itself far more effectively than even the most aggressive advocate of sanctions could hope to achieve, and trading with China at a fraction of the usual level.

In his job report, Kim admitted that mistakes had been made in the last five years and that "almost all sectors fell far short of the targets set" in the country's economic plan.

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