The North Korean leader said his economic policies had failed, but he called his nuclear arms buildup one of the great feats “in the history of the Korean nation.”
North Korean state media released this photo of Kim Jong-un and other officials, said to have been taken on Tuesday, the last day of the Workers’ Party congress.Credit…Korean Central News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
- Jan. 13, 2021Updated 1:11 a.m. ET
SEOUL, South Korea — As North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, convened a party congress over the past eight days, outside analysts wondered if his failure to improve the economic lives of his people would affect the dictator’s nuclear ambitions.
At the gathering of his ruling Workers’ Party, Mr. Kim provided an unequivocal answer: absolutely not.
Establishing a nuclear force, Mr. Kim said, has been “a strategic and predominant goal” and “the exploit of greatest significance in the history of the Korean nation.” In a resolution adopted on Tuesday at the end of the congress, laying out the party’s plans for the next five years, he vowed to “further strengthen our nuclear deterrence.”
During the party meeting, the first of its kind since 2016, Mr. Kim doubled down on his nuclear arms buildup, offering an unusually detailed list of weapons that the North was developing. They included “ultramodern tactical nuclear weapons,” “hypersonic gliding-flight warheads,” “multi-warhead” missiles, military reconnaissance satellites, a nuclear-powered submarine, and land- and submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles that use solid fuel.
The country’s economy has been ravaged by the pandemic, extensive flood damage and years of international sanctions. Mr. Kim admitted his economic plans had failed, but he said he did not see his nuclear weapons program as an obstacle toward rebuilding the economy.