The Washington Post reports: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is in the “last stage” of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, refusing to slow his nuclear-arms development as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office in Washington.
Kim made his remarks in a New Year’s televised address as he outlined his country’s military achievements for the past year, the country’s official Korean Central News Agency said Sunday. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests under Kim and launched long-range rockets.
North Korea “will continue to strengthen its ability based on nuclear might to mount a preemptive attack,” Kim said during a half-hour speech that touched on a variety of issues, including economic policy and relations with South Korea.
Since taking power in late 2011, the North Korean leader has concentrated on developing nuclear-armed missiles that could reach the United States. The country has refused to accept U.S. demands to freeze its arms development before the two sides can resume international disarmament talks.
Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, likened Kim to a “maniac” during his campaign while suggesting that he could meet with the North Korea leader for nuclear talks. While Kim made no mention of Trump in his speech, his comments released Sunday signal that North Korea might seek to test-fire a long-range missile around the time of the U.S. presidential inauguration to raise stakes ahead of potential talks with the Trump administration. [Continue reading…]