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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea is preparing to take a “new path” in the absence of substantive progress in diplomacy with the U.S. and step-up development of its new weapons systems, an influential pro-Pyongyang outlet said Wednesday, warning Washington not to miss what it said was a critical opportunity for dialogue.
In a commentary written by managing editor Kim Ji Yong, the Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo urged the U.S. not to miss the deadline for nuclear negotiations originally set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a prominent policy speech in April.
Echoing Kim’s promise that the DPRK would wait for a “resolute decision” from the U.S. until the end of this year, the article stressed that the ”time limit for dialogue given to the U.S. through the Supreme Leader’s policy speech (April 12) is the end of this year.”
“If a third summit is not held by then under the circumstances in which the U.S. finds a methodology of problem-solving that can be shared with the DPRK side, the opportunity for dialogue will disappear,” the Choson Sinbo, which serves as the top organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), said.
The article then suggested that North Korea would, should this transpire, pursue a new strategy — describing this approach as linked to recent development of new weapons systems and a spate of missile testing by the country in recent months.
“The DPRK is preparing to take the ‘new path’ declared in the New Year speech, while waiting for the U.S. resolute decision with patience,” it says. “The power of Juche weapons [the DPRK has recently] disclosed demonstrates this.”
In his New Year’s speech, Kim Jong Un said the country would seek an alternative plan if the U.S. “does not keep the promise it made before the world, attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us miscalculating our people’s patience, and resolutely increases sanctions and pressure against our Republic.”
The DPRK, Kim warned, “may be compelled to find a new path for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”
READY FOR CONFRONTATION…
Wednesday’s commentary also saw the Choson Sinbo reiterate that the North “is ready for both dialogue and confrontation,” comments originally made by foreign minister Ri Yong Ho in a rare press statement in August.
To put that statement into action, the newspaper said, the country has taken “a series of measures to steadily strengthen its self-defensive national defense capabilities amid a stalemate between the DPRK and the U.S.”
As one example, it continued, the North had test-fired “super-large multiple rocket launchers” in August, September, and October.
In the wake of the country’s latest test, North Korean media said the new weapons would “become the core weapon of the Korean People’s Army, along with tactical guided weapons which are newly-developed… to contain and eliminate all threatening movements of an enemy.”
U.S. ARMY BASES WITHIN RANGE
Recent tests, the article continued, mean that the “range of the super-large multiple rocket launchers has significantly extended compared to the existing multiple rocket launchers,” adding that the newly-developed multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) could target the bases of the United States Forces Korea (USFK).
“To escape from the bombardment of the People’s Army, U.S. forces stationed in South Korea have set up a huge base in Pyeongtaek of Gyeonggi Province, 70 km south of Seoul, after abolishing and integrating bases that scattered in forward and rear areas,” it said.
“The weapons system is the multiple rocket launchers and has precise homing functions. It can only attack targeted military installations without damaging non-military facilities.”
The development of the new weapons, the Choson Sinbo said, is in line with the North Korean leader’s report on the work of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) at the 7th Congress held in May 2016.
Pro-North Korea newspaper also elaborated on Pyongyang’s justifications for its decision to solidify national defense capabilities against the U.S.
“As the DPRK completed the state nuclear force by successfully test-firing ‘Hwasong-15’ ICBM (November 29, 2017), the structure of the DPRK-U.S. confrontation was fundamentally changed and the DPRK-U.S. summit which was the first in history was realized.”
In the wake of that test-launch, the Choson Sinbo pointed out, the 8th Conference of Munitions Industry was held on December 11 and 12, at which tasks to strengthen self-defensive national defense capabilities were raised.
“This fact clearly illustrates the DPRK’s view of the U.S., which is the longtime hostile country,” it aid.
“Even though the DPRK’s nuclear retaliatory capability against the U.S. mainland is demonstrated in practice, we view that the essentiality of the U.S., which is a hegemon that is accustomed to domination by force and conquest by war, does not change easily.”
This “unstable situation,” it continued, emerged after the second DPRK-U.S. summit and this summer’s ROK-U.S. military exercises — which North Korea has long claimed that President Donald Trump initially promised to cancel.
“[North Korea] has no option but to counter force with force, and a realistic way to block and defeat war threats from the hostile country is to have powerful military strength that the counterpart sees as a threat.”
Pyongyang, the Choson Sinbo said, also “showed off” its “nuclear war deterrent” through the test-launch of the Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on October 2 and “strongly urged the U.S. to make a wise choice in choosing between dialogue and confrontation.”
The North also has accelerated the deployment of Juche weapons, it added, which can “overpower an enemy’s war provocations,” also repeatedly emphasizing that the development of the new weapons systems were being developed as part of a long-term plan.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Feature image: KCNA