North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said his country will not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is infringed on by others, state media reported. Speaking spoke in Pyongyang on Saturday to thousands of delegates gathered for the first Workers’ Party congress in more than 35 years.
“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” the KCNA news agency quoted him as saying. “And it will faithfully fulfil its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for the global denuclearisation.”
Kim also said North Korea may be willing to normalise ties with states that had been hostile towards it – generally understood to mean the US and South Korea. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from the South Korean capital, Seoul, noted that Kim’s latest comments were different from defiant statements made in recent weeks and months.
“The idea that North Korea would launch a preemptive nuclear strike has never been really likely, given the military response that would entail from the US,” Fawcett said, “However, Kim’s latest remarks do mark a shift in tone.”