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Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech stressed energy development, and co-operation wit South Korea

Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech: On the Domestic Front, 38 North, BY: GLYN FORD, JANUARY 9, 2019  “……

Kim acknowledged that challenges to this domestic agenda certainly exist, noting especially the misallocation of labor, lack of expertise and poor productivity. In his speech, he instructed a reallocation of labor and resources, both for the military and the Party, to start to address these barriers to success. He also indicated that contingency plans were being explored in case a second summit with Trump fails to set US-DPRK relations back on track.

………Focus on Energy Generation

The country’s principal economic bottleneck is the desperate need for a massive increase in electricity production. A first step is the renovation and modernization of the supply industry. By singling out the Pukchang Thermal Power Complex for praise all the others inevitably lie in its shadow. Yet the most aggravating problem is fuel shortages. Under the current sanctions regime, the short-term solution—and by no means good news for the climate-change lobby—to the electricity shortage is massive increases in productivity in the coal sector. ………..

While hydroelectric plants merit a passing mention, in reality, the North is close to maximizing the use of the water resources available with both floods and droughts sharply reducing output. In the longer term, Kim argued that the country needs to “create a capacity for generating tidal, wind and atomic power under a far-reaching plan.” The last underlines Pyongyang’s perception that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula does not preclude ambitions to be a civil nuclear power. The ongoing construction of their indigenous Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center suggests that light water reactors will form the backbone of the industry, harking back perhaps to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) from the 1990s. ………..

There is no question the Party is now on top as well as on tap with constant references to its primacy. Kim emphasized in his speech that the KPA is to “defend the Party and revolution and the security of the country and the people and continuously perform miraculous feats at all sites of socialist construction.” Echoing that sentiment, the People’s Internal Security Forces are there to protect Party, system and people, in that order.

Delivering peace and prosperity to the Korean Peninsula is the stated goal for both Pyongyang and Seoul. Kim underscored this mandate with:

“When north and south join hands firmly and rely on the united strength of the fellow countrymen, no external sanctions and pressure, challenges and trials will be able to hinder us….We will never tolerate the interference and intervention of outside forces who stand in the way of national reconciliation, unity and reunification with the design to subordinate inter-Korean relations to their tastes and interests.”

The “dog that didn’t bark” is the “end-of-war” declaration. Last summer, Pyongyang complained long and hard that Washington had not delivered on its promise to sign a political declaration ending the Korean War. In Kim’s New Year’s speech, this declaration failed to get even a mention. Pyongyang seems to have moved on, from Washington at least. Kim stated, “it is also needed to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation.” The concept of a bilateral US-DPRK declaration signed by Seoul and Beijing has now become a multilateral proposition and negotiation. Which parties would be involved is unclear, but this may have been one of many topics discussed between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping during Kim’s birthday visit to Beijing

……….Until now Pyongyang has rigidly adhered publicly to parallel bilateral negotiations, one with Washington looking for a peace settlement accompanied by sanctions relief and a second with Seoul on economic cooperation. Now with the potential for the first set of negotiations to go multilateral, the second set may follow suit, increasing pressure on Moon to put clear blue water between Seoul and Washington with respect to “maximum pressure.”


January 12, 2019 - Posted by | North Korea, politics, politics international

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