North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has used a New Year speech to call for the development of more advanced weapons, as well as an “end to confrontation” on the Korean peninsula.
In the surprise address broadcast Tuesday on state television, Mr. Kim called on his country to hold fast “to the ideals of independence, peace and friendship.”
“This year, the entire Korean nation should turn out in a nationwide patriotic struggle for reunification in unity so as to usher in a new phase in the reunification movement. An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south.”
Mr. Kim, whose government provoked international condemnation by carrying out a successful long-range rocket launch in December, also called for the development of more “cutting edge arms and equipment.”
The speech was the first televised New Year address by a North Korean leader in 19 years. During the leadership of Mr. Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, the New Year message was delivered in the form of a state media editorial.
Mr. Kim's speech also called for an improvement in living standards in the impoverished communist country. He said bolstering farming would “provide the people with a better, more bountiful diet.”
“Becoming an economic power is the most important task in our efforts to follow our great work of establishing a strong communist country.”
But he made no mention of his country's nuclear weapons program, which has landed in the country under devastating international sanctions.
Inter-Korean tensions were raised in December when North Korea launched a long-range rocket that successfully placed what Pyongyang said was a weather satellite into orbit.
The move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council as a violation of sanctions banning it from conducting long-range ballistic missile tests.
Following the launch, some analysts fear North Korea may be preparing a third nuclear test.