Kim Jong Un: We won't nuke you unless threatened
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said at his party's congress on Saturday that the country will not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is under threat, state media reported on Sunday.
"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 leader said, according to North Korea's state news agency. Kim said the country "will sincerely fulfill its duties for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and work to realize the denuclearization of the world," the Associated Press reported.
Speaking in Pyongyang at the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's first congress since 1980, Kim also said the country is willing to improve and normalize relations with nations that "respect the sovereignty of the DPRK and are friendly towards it" even if they were hostile toward it previously, state media reported. He even said he seeks further talks with South Korea to ease tensions between the two states.
Click through images from a rocket launch in North Korea:
But Kim's desire to repair his country's relationship with the south appears a long way off. South Korea's Foreign Ministry said before the weekend congress that its priority in any further talks with the north is North Korea's denuclearization, the AP reported. On Saturday, Kim said North Korea will continue to develop its nuclear weapons alongside its economy—a strategy that he said should be followed for the "maximized interest of our revolution," the AP reported, citing a speech published by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
The declarations came four months after North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb, which is far more powerful than an atomic one. The nation has also continued to launch missiles in the face of international condemnations of its nuclear and missile activity, and new U.N. sanctions that include a ban on selling jet fuel and rocket fuel to North Korea.
Despite the sanctions and others that have continually been levied against the country, Kim also announced a five-year plan aimed at reviving North Korea's struggling economy. His plans include the development of nuclear power plants, and growing light manufacturing production and agriculture. While North Korea does not publish data on economic growth, Reuters reported that the South's central bank said North Korea's economy grew by 1 percent in 2014.