North Korea won’t use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is breached by another nuclear weapons state, Kim Jong Un was reported by state media as saying on Sunday morning.
Furthermore, Pyongyang would be willing to take steps to normalize relations with old foes, Kim is reported to have said in remarks at an ongoing Congress event carried by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).
The remarks come just two days after North Korea-watching site 38 North said that indicators in recent commercial satellite imagery suggested a fifth nuclear test could soon be on the cards.
And they follow rumors in South Korean media which on Saturday suggested that U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “inquired about South Korea’s position negotiating a peace treaty with Pyongyang” during a recent “secret” two-day visit to Seoul.
At the opening of Pyongyang’s first Congress event in 36 years, Kim Jong Un on Friday used the event to hail the country’s nuclear weapons program, lauding January’s fourth nuclear test and February satellite launch to a packed audience of delegates.
Political congresses and conferences have taken place in North Korea since 1946, with a total of six congresses and four conferences taking place.
The last two major political events in North Korea, the third and fourth conferences of 2010 and 2012, were used to designate Kim Jong Un as official successor of Kim Jong Il and to promote the young leader following his father’s death in December 2011.
North Korea’s Seventh Congress was announced on October 30, 2015, scheduled to take place sometime in early May.
Since then Pyongyang conducted a flurry of acts which have drawn stern condemnation from the international community for breaching UN Security Council Resolutions, including a fourth nuclear test, satellite launch and numerous ballistic missile tests.
It’s unclear how long the current congress event will last, though the last one in 1980 took five days.
Main picture: Rodong Sinmun