Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation

A look at North Korea's 2018

A look at North Korea's 2018

The comments are likely to fuel growing scepticism over whether Pyongyang intends to give up the nuclear weapons program that it has long considered essential to its security.

Our correspondent, Laura Bicker, is in the South Korean capital, Seoul and watched the speech.

"It is the unwavering position of our party and the republic's government and my firm will that the two countries as declared in the June 12 joint statement. take steps to establish a permanent and stable peace regime and push toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", he said.

Pyongyang has demanded Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War in response to its initial, unilateral steps toward denuclearization, including dismantling its only known nuclear testing site and a key missile engine facility.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

In this photo taken on December 31, 2018, revelers pose for photos before an ice sculpture during a New Year's eve countdown event and fireworks display on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.

U.S. officials say those initial steps were not confirmed and can be easily reversed, and have called for strict sanctions enforcement on the impoverished country until full, verifiable disarmament. Washington stopped some large-scale exercises with Seoul, although smaller drills continued. As a gesture of good faith made in the hopes of encouraging action by North Korea, the United States likewise agreed to scale back joint military exercises with South Korea on the Korean peninsula. Mr Kim specifically offered to resume work at the Gaeseong industrial park on the northern side of the border, where South Korean factories use local labour, and the Mount Geumgang resort in North Korea.

Chairman Kim also declared to North Korea's state-run media that the USA should continue to suspend its bilateral military exercises with South Korea.

Kim used his New Year's speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with Moon and Trump. North Korea seemingly seeks to include China, one of its closest allies, in the talks for more leverage, experts have noted.

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"Kim's remarks seem to suggest his patience with America is wearing thin".

Mr Kim emphasised "self-reliance" in his speech as he outlined his efforts to develop his impoverished nation.

On Sunday he also wrote a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae In, in which he said he wanted to meet Moon more frequently in 2019 in order to push forward their talks on "peace and prosperity".

Kim made clear in his speech that he's ready to meet with President Trump for another summit.

In what was the first time a North Korean leader met a sitting U.S. president, the two signed a vaguely phrased agreement to improve ties and work towards denuclearisation.

In the months since the historic summit, leaders from both countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been trying to negotiate a second meeting between Trump and Kim.

This would make Kim's speech the first real test of US resolve on the path to denuclearization.

As a way to tackle chronic power shortages, he raised the need for atomic energy.

Trump did not specify what exactly he meant by North Korea's "great economic potential" but the current North Korean economy is bolstered by approximately 2.6 million modern slaves and what Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation dubbed the "brutal suppression of human potential" and lost human freedoms.

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