Asia Politics

'Our biggest enemy': North Korea's Kim says U.S. policy doesn't change with presidents

Key Points
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the United States the "biggest enemy" and said Washington's hostile policy toward North Korea would not change regardless of who occupies the White House, state media reported on Saturday.
  • "Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the U.S., our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development," Kim said, according to a KCNA report of his remarks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks on the first day of the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo supplied by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 6, 2021.
KCNA | via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the United States the "biggest enemy" and said Washington's hostile policy toward North Korea would not change regardless of who occupies the White House, state media reported on Saturday.

Speaking at a rare party congress in Pyongyang just days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is due to take office, Kim said that dropping those hostile policies would be key to North Korea-U.S. relations, state news agency KCNA said.

"Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the U.S., our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development," Kim said on Friday, according to a KCNA report of his remarks.

"No matter who is in power in the U.S., the true nature of the U.S. and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change," Kim said, vowing to expand ties with "anti-imperialist, independent forces" and calling for expanded nuclear capabilities.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department. A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment.

Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama, called Kim a "thug" during the election campaign, and in 2019 North Korea called Biden a "rabid dog" that needed to be "beaten to death with a stick."

Kim had three unprecedented meetings with outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump and the two corresponded in a series of letters, but those efforts failed to lead to a denuclearization deal or official change in the countries' relations.

Biden said in October that he would only meet Kim on the condition that North Korea would agree to draw down its nuclear capacity.

Last month Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia under Obama and seen as a contender for a top Asia policy position under Biden, said the incoming U.S. administration would have to make an early decision on what approach it will take with North Korea and not repeat the delay of the Obama era.

Kim called for more research and development of advanced military equipment, including spy satellites, hypersonic weapons, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, and reconnaissance drones.

He also said research had nearly been completed on a nuclear submarine.

North Korea would not "misuse" its nuclear weapons, Kim said, but called for expanding the country's nuclear arsenal, including "preemptive" and "retaliatory" strike capabilities and warheads of varying sizes.

Economic policies

Besides U.S. and defense policy, Kim also spoke at length on proposals for a new five-year economic plan due to be announced at the congress, which he said would continue a focus on building an independent economy.

"The basic seeds and themes of the new five-year economic development plan are still self-reliance and self-sufficiency," he said.

Among the plans are building energy-saving steel plants, significantly increasing production of chemical goods to make the industry self-sufficient, producing electricity, and securing more coal mines, Kim said.

North Korea faces growing crises caused by international sanctions over its nuclear program, as well as self-imposed lockdowns to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

Addressing South Korea, Kim criticized Seoul for offering cooperation in "non-fundamental" areas such as coronavirus aid and tourism, and said the South should stop purchasing arms from and conducting military drills with the United States.

The remarks came a day after Kim explored ways to renew inter-Korean ties and vowed to expand diplomatic relations in remarks to the congress.