Kim Jong Un warns 'Washington not to test North Korean's patience'

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared his "strong will" towards denuclearisation in his annual New Year's Day address, but warned that he could "seek a new path" if the United States misjudges his patience.

Kim Jong Un says he is ready to sit down again with President Donald Trump - but also warned the United States against imposing more sanctions.

South Korea - a key United States ally in Asia and the North's capitalist neighbor - praised Kim's speech, calling it a reaffirmation of Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization.

The hermit-kingdom despot used his New Year address to stage the intervention.

"We are willing to resume the Kaesong industrial complex and tour program to Kumgangsan without any preconditions or price, in consideration of South Korean businessmen who once worked at the complex and their hard situation, along with the hopes of our South Korean comrades who seek to visit our people's famous mountain", Kim said in his speech.

The moves - an about-face from the weapons tests and threats in 2017 - were telegraphed in Kim's previous New Year's speech, in which he offered to discuss participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In the address, Kim Jong-un highlighted last year's developments in inter-Korean and US-North Korea relations, while calling on his country to seek economic development and modernize its defense industry.

Regarding inter-Korean relations, Kim stressed that North Korea was strongly invested in bringing peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula. Since then, North Korea has returned remains of US service members who were killed in North Korea, stopped nuclear missile testing, shut down down the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, begun dismantling some key facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, and offered the option for inspections. The North Korean leader secured Washington's commitment to suspend US-South Korean drills in exchange for its promise to denuclearize.

However, he warned that North Korea might be "compelled to explore a new path" to defend its sovereignty if the USA "seeks to force something upon us unilaterally. and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure". Sanctions have also been strengthened since the meeting with Mr Trump.

While the U.S. wants North Korea to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang has demanded more security guarantees from Washington.

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Kim and Trump met June 12 in Singapore where they signed a vague statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

Neither of those are now possible for South Korea unless sanctions on the North are removed.

Joseph Cheng, a Hong-Kong-based political scientist, argued that Seoul is ready to offer Pyongyang more economic incentives to scrap its nuclear program, but Washington's insistence that sanctions must stay until complete and irreversible denuclearization is holding further progress back.

The North Korean leader is asking Washington to take the next step to break the stalemate, such as allowing the reopening of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex, analysts said.

South Korea praised the speech, noting that it was the first time that Mr Kim had uttered the term "complete denuclearisation" in public.

He also urged the United States to take "sincere measures and corresponding action" in response to alleged peace initiatives undertaken by the North Korean government.

Abe, for his part, has said he is willing to meet Kim, though he has insisted that any summit must lead to a resolution of the regime's abductions of Japanese citizens.

The only way to resolve the long-running nuclear conundrum is for the U.S. and North Korea to agree on "stage-by-stage arrangements so there will be reciprocity in mutual concessions", Cheng believes.

Those letters could carry more specific and directed messages to Moon and Trump than the speech, which is primarily intended for a domestic audience, said Ahn Chan-il, a high-ranking defector who now heads the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul.

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