SEOUL—North Korea suggested it might consider restarting long-range and nuclear-weapons tests, promising to take “practical action” as it says the U.S. threat to the country can no longer be ignored.
Kim Jong Un
regime for more than four years hasn’t launched an intercontinental ballistic missile or conducted a nuclear test—major provocations that have previously drawn recrimination even from close allies in Beijing and Moscow.
At a Wednesday Politburo meeting, North Korea blasted the U.S. for maintaining hostilities against the cloistered regime, from sanctions enforcement to combined Washington-Seoul military exercises to America’s own strategic-weapons testing, according to North Korea’s state media. Mr. Kim presided over the meeting.
The Politburo, the top decision-making body for the ruling Workers’ Party, unanimously recognized the need to prepare for a long-term confrontation with the U.S., agreeing to “take a practical action” to defend the country’s dignity, state interests and sovereign rights, state media reported.
Pyongyang would reconsider at “an overall scale the trust-building measures that we took on our own initiative” after the 2018 Singapore summit and would “promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporarily suspended activities,” the report said.
That is probably a reference to the multiyear pause in major weapons tests, given that Pyongyang has recently unleashed a barrage of shorter-range missile launches. Other facets of the country’s nuclear production have also been active, including an apparent resumption of a plutonium-producing reactor, the United Nations’ atomic agency said in a report last year.
North Korea can make exaggerated threats in state media, though the regime is also deliberate—and often forthright—in ratcheting up pressure ahead of weapons provocations.
In April 2018, Mr. Kim, as a goodwill gesture for diplomacy, said he would pause any major weapons tests. Nuclear talks with the U.S. broke down the following year. Then, in a policy speech published Jan. 1, 2020, Mr. Kim said he no longer felt bound by his self-imposed weapons moratorium.
The country hasn’t returned to ICBM or nuclear tests. But Mr. Kim unveiled a mammoth-sized ICBM at an October 2020 military parade. Last year, as part of the country’s five-year strategic weapons policy, Mr. Kim mentioned developing an ICBM that could fly 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), or about 2,000 kilometers further than what it has previously tested.
North Korea has shown little interest in returning to talks with the U.S. The two sides haven’t held formal negotiations in more than two years.
Mr. Kim in a year-end speech didn’t mention the U.S. or President Biden. Earlier this month, North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement promising a “stronger and certain” reaction if the U.S. kept taking a confrontational stance with the Kim regime.
Write to Timothy W. Martin at [email protected]
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