SEOUL, South Korea — Accusing the United States of hostility and threats, North Korea on Thursday said it will consider restarting “all temporally-suspended activities” it had paused during its diplomacy with the Trump administration, in an apparent threat to resume testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un presided over a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party where officials set policy goals for “immediately bolstering” the North’s military capabilities to counter the Americans’ “hostile moves.”
Officials gave instructions to “reconsider in an overall scale the trust-building measures that we took on our own initiative … and to promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporally-suspended activities,” the KCNA said.
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Experts say Kim is reviving Pyongyang’s old playbook of brinkmanship to extract concessions from Washington and neighbors as he grapples with a decaying economy crippled by the pandemic, mismanagement and U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions.
The North has been ramping up its weapons demonstrations recently, including four rounds of missile launches just this month, in an apparent effort to pressure Washington over a prolonged freeze in nuclear diplomacy.
The North’s Foreign Ministry had already warned of stronger and more explicit action after the Biden administration last week imposed fresh sanctions over the North’s continued missile testing activity. The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a closed-door meeting for Thursday to discuss North Korea and non-proliferation matters.
Boo Seung-Chan, spokesman of South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said it was closely monitoring North Korea’s military activities but didn’t make presumptions about what the North’s next steps would be.
Kim announced a unilateral suspension of his nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests in 2018 as he initiated diplomacy with then-President Donald Trump in an attempt to leverage his nuclear weapons for badly needed economic benefits.
Their summitry came after a provocative run in North Korean nuclear and intercontinental range ballistic missile testing in 2017 that demonstrated Kim’s pursuit of an arsenal that can viably target the American homeland and resulted in him exchanging threats of nuclear annihilation with Trump.
But negotiations have stalled since their second summit in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
At the end of that year, Kim vowed to further bolster his nuclear arsenal in the face of “gangster-like” U.S. threats and pressure and declared a “frontal breakthrough” against sanctions while urging his people to stay resilient in a struggle for economic self-reliance. He then said the North was no longer obligated to maintain its suspension on nuclear and ICBM tests, which Trump touted as a major achievement.
However, the pandemic thwarted many of Kim’s economic goals as the North imposed a lockdown and halted most of its trade with China, its major ally and economic lifeline.
North Korea appeared this month to have resumed railroad freight traffic with China that had been suspended for two years.
North Korea conducted its sixth and last test of a nuclear explosive device in September 2017 and its last launch of an ICBM was in November that year.