- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 1, 2020

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on Wednesday threatened “shocking actual action” against the U.S. and also promised that the reclusive country will soon unveil new strategic weapons.

Mr. Kim’s widely anticipated New Year’s Day speech kept open the door to continued denuclearization talks with the Trump administration while turning up the rhetorical heat and returning to his traditional, more aggressive stance. The North Korean leader didn’t specify what the “shocking” action might, but Washington has been on high alert over the past week after Mr. Kim had promised a Christmas “surprise” that was expected to be a long-range ballistic missile test or perhaps even a return to nuclear weapons testing.

Neither of those tests came to pass over the Christmas holiday but Mr. Kim’s address Wednesday suggests they could be on the horizon.

“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by [North Korea] in the near future,” Mr. Kim said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Mr. Kim also delivered direct threats to Washington, saying his country will soon “shift to a shocking actual action to make it pay for the pains sustained by our people so far and for the development so far restrained.”

Adding to tensions, Pyongyang in recent days has made clear it believes it is no longer bound to denuclearization promises it made with the Trump administration. North Korea last tested nuclear weapons in 2017 but then stopped all such tests as Mr. Kim and President Trump began a period of unprecedented diplomacy between the two countries, including three in-person meetings between the two men.

That diplomacy, however, has failed to produce a comprehensive denuclearization deal, and Mr. Kim says the U.S. has violated the spirit of negotiations by continuing some joint military drills with South Korea and by shipping arms to Seoul.

“There is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer,” Mr. Kim said in his speech.

Still, Mr. Kim steered clear of directly attacking Mr. Trump during his address. In his own comments on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Trump put the pressure back on the North Korean leader and said that any nuclear testing would be a violation of trust and would represent a broken promise.

“Look, he likes me; I like him. We get along. He’s representing his country. I’m representing my country. We have to do what we have to do,” the president told reporters while spending New Year’s at Mar-a-Lago.

“But he did sign a contract,” Mr. Trump continued. “He did sign an agreement, talking about denuclearization. And that was signed. Number one sentence: denuclearization. That was done in Singapore. And I think he’s a man of his word. So we’re going to find out, but I think he’s a man of his word.”

North Korea has insisted that the U.S. lift some economic sanctions before it will fully give up its nuclear ambitions. Washington, meanwhile, wants full and permanent denuclearization before any sanctions are removed.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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