A day after dictator Kim Jong-un allegedly claimed that his father’s “dying wish” was to see the end of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun published a commentary insisting that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons “reliably guaranteed” world peace.
Rodong Sinmun regularly publishes incendiary opinion pieces reflective of the government’s attitudes, mostly targeting South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Arguably the world’s most repressive nation, North Korea does not permit the existence of media outside of what the government controls.
In its Wednesday tirade, Rodong Sinmun insisted that the real nuclear threat facing the planet is the United States. “Historically, the U.S. has posed nuclear threat and blackmail to the DPRK for several decades after adopting it as a policy to mount nuclear attack on the DPRK,” the article read, using the official name for North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“There was no other option for the DPRK in the phase of acute confrontation in which it had to protect its system and destiny of the nation in one-on-one showdown with the world’s biggest nuclear possessor U.S.,” it continues. “We openly and squarely possessed nuclear weapons to defend the supreme interests of the country from the U.S. nuclear threats.”
“Peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the rest of the world have been reliably guaranteed by the DPRK’s bolstering of nuclear deterrent,” it continues, giving the Kim regime credit for having “scuttled all the nuclear attack operation scenarios of the U.S.” and “drastically weakened its unchallenged position in the world.”
“The DPRK has defended the world peace and security by single-handedly frustrating the U.S. reckless nuclear moves to stifle it by force and dominate the world. Its feats deserve the praise of the world,” Rodong Sinmun‘s writers conclude.
The article does not mention the possibility of denuclearization, though it does appear to serve more towards explaining how North Korea decided to pursue its illegal nuclear weapons program rather than insisting that Pyongyang will keep the weapons. It neither argues for enhancing the nuclear weapons program nor for getting rid of it.
South Korean envoys sent to Pyongyang on Monday returned with the news that Kim Jong-un, who met with them personally, was open to discussing denuclearization with the United States. An official privy to the conversations in Pyongyang told the South Korean outlet Yonhap that “Chairman Kim said that even denuclearization could be among the agenda items for talks between North Korea and the U.S.”
“What drew our attention, in particular, is that he made clear that achieving denuclearization is his father’s dying wish and that it has not been changed at all,” the officials said, according to Yonhap.
Responding to this news, President Donald Trump said the conversations between the two Koreas appeared “very positive.” He added that he hoped the United States and North Korea could pursue a “very, very peaceful, beautiful path” together and praised North Korea’s presence at the Winter Olympics as “terrific.”
Just as North Korean state media and Kim Jong-un appeared to be sending distinct messages, the State Department announced yesterday the imposition of new sanctions on North Korea, despite Trump’s kind words for the regime.
The sanctions in question are a response to the confirmation that North Korea used a chemical weapon to assassinate Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un’s half-brother.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons to conduct an assassination. This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“The U.S. is still obsessed with the absurd fantasy that sanctions and pressure can work on the DPRK,” Minju Joson, another North Korean state publication, protested on Wednesday. “Additional sanctions by the Trump group are nothing but last-ditch efforts to try to retrieve its continued defeats in the showdown with the DPRK.”