Kim Jong Un: North Korea no longer bound by testing moratorium

In a speech to a plenary session of the ruling Workers Party Central Committee, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he no longer feels bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, which has held for the past two years. However, he stopped short of saying he was breaking off nuclear negotiations with the U.S., nor did he formally announce a shift to a more hard-line policy.

The official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim’s remarks to the Party Plenum, which has been held in Pyongyang over the past four days (Saturday through Tuesday).

Kim had been expected to deliver a televised New Year’s Day address, but state media had not aired a speech as of 4 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET), leading to speculation that Kim had said all he wanted to say and was skipping this year’s address.

KCNA quoted Kim as saying there was no reason to remain committed to his moratorium because the U.S. had not reciprocated, but had continued to hold joint military drills with South Korea and send advanced weapons to the South.

“This is chilling our efforts for worldwide nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Kim added.

The U.S. has scaled back military exercises with Seoul in hopes of facilitating diplomacy. It has also sold advanced F-35A fighter jets to South Korea.

Kim threatened to take unspecified “shocking action,” adding that “the world will witness a new strategic weapon” which North Korea will soon have.

Kim also accused the U.S. of playing for time by drawing out nuclear negotiations, while maintaining sanctions and hostile policies “to completely strangle and stifle” North Korea. “This is the double-dealing behavior of the brigandish U.S.,” Kim commented.