North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for increased military power and greater deterrent nuclear war, the state news agency KCNA reported on Wednesday when a rare ruling party congress ended after eight days of political discussions.
The eighth party congress took place less than two weeks before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office and in the middle of a long-running net cap in talks aimed at ending the Nordic nuclear and missile program in exchange for US sanctions easing.
“We must do everything we can to further increase the deterrence of the nuclear war as we build the strongest military capability,” KCNA quoted Kim at the end of the congress.
Since announcing a self-proclaimed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in 2018, Kim has called for continued nuclear weapons production for his arsenal, launching a series of smaller missiles and revealing what would be North Korea’s largest ICBM to date at a parade in October.
Separately, Kim Yo Jong, the leader’s sister and member of the party’s Central Committee, criticized the South Korean military for overseeing a parade in Pyongyang. The move was an expression of the South’s “hostile approach” to the north, she said in a separate statement from the KCNA.
The South Korean military said on Monday that it had detected signs that North Korea was holding a night military parade on Sunday for the congress.
Kim’s remarks come after South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised to help bring about a breakthrough in halted nuclear talks.
Kim Yo Jong has served as her brother’s “de facto subordinate”, and her comments, which ignore Moon’s call for dialogue, are proof of her role in the regime, Moon said.
Seong-mook, a former South Korean military official and head of the Unification Strategy Center in Seoul.
“She did not mention dialogues with South Korea at all, although the statement came a day after Moon’s New Year’s speech, suggesting that talks or meetings are remote,” he said.
Tightening of condition control
The results of the congress shed light on how Kim Jong Un continues to tighten state control over society as well as the economy, says Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a North Korean economics expert at the American-based think tank Stimson Center.
“Kim’s report is very clear when he says he wants the state to be the main planner and decision maker not only over the general direction of the economy, but at a much more detailed level than that,” he wrote in a report on Tuesday. .
The latest policy has exercised greater centralized control over the consumer markets in the country, introduced foreign currency borders and cracked down on smuggling along the border with China.
The eight-day congress in Pyongyang is the first since 2016 and only the second since 1980.
On Tuesday, Kim cemented his power at Congress with his election as the party’s general secretary.
A meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), or parliament, is scheduled for Sunday to discuss the adoption of a law on the five-year economic plan and state budget, the KCNA said.