North Korea vows not to give up nuclear weapons as Trump is elected new U.S. president

Jake Joo, Nov. 10, 2016, 9:35 a.m.

Pyongyang warned Thursday the incoming Donald Trump administration will face a bigger challenge of dealing with a "nuclear-armed" North Korea.

In a commentary released a day after Trump was elected president, the North's official media reaffirmed the communist country will not give up its nuclear weapons program.

"Washington's hope for North Korea's denuclearization is an outdated illusion," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said.

The newspaper condemned U.S. President Barack Obama's "strategic patience" policy with North Korea, saying the policy has only left bigger burdens to his successor as Pyongyang has become a nuclear state.

The U.S. focuses on applying pressure and sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear and missile provocations, saying that Pyongyang should first show sincere commitment to denuclearization if dialogue is to proceed.

North Korea has claimed that it needs to develop and maintain a nuclear arsenal as a deterrence against what it calls Washington's hostile policy toward Pyongyang.

Trump has not clearly unveiled his vision for the North Korean policy, but he expressed his willingness to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his election campaign period.

In June, North Korea's propaganda website hailed Trump's claim that South Korea should pay more for the upkeep of American troops on its soil.

Experts said that North Korea may refrain from conducting another nuclear test or launching a long-range rocket until it can gauge the direction of Trump's North Korea policy.

"North Korea would seek to have dialogue with Washington as long as the next U.S. administration does not take a hawkish stance toward the North's nuclear issue," said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University.

There had been speculation that the North could conduct nuclear or missile tests around U.S. Election Day, but the repressive regime did not take such a step.

But some analysts said that North Korea would push ahead with nuclear and missile provocations around its key anniversaries in December.

Dec. 17 marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il, father of the current leader Kim Jong-un. The country's incumbent leader will also mark the fifth anniversary of him assuming the supreme commandership of the military on Dec. 30.

"North Korea may conduct a nuclear or missile test around Kim Jong-un's 33rd birthday, which falls on Jan. 8," said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute.

A source familiar with North Korean affairs said that North Korea is likely to make provocative acts as it will need to hone nuclear and missile technology, and wants to take an upper hand ahead of possible talks with Washington.

"Next year will be the prime time for the North's leader to maximize the personality cult of his family lineage," the source said. "The climate is favorable to the North's provocations."

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests this year alone following its detonation of nuke devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Pyongyang also launched a long-range rocket in February, which outside experts viewed as a covert test to check its long-range ballistic missile technology.

An official at Seoul's unification ministry said Tuesday that North Korea would not feel safe about the results of the U.S. election as Washington is surely to place top priority on its security whoever wins the White House. (Yonhap)

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