North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly described the U.S. as his country's "biggest enemy" in a speech on Friday. According to NPR, the state-controlled news agency released Kim's remarks from a session of the Workers Party 8th congress in Pyongyang. In it, Kim vowed to continue expanding North Korea's nuclear arsenal.
"Our external political activities must focus on controlling and subjugating the United States, our archenemy and the biggest stumbling block to the development of our revolution," Kim said, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "No matter who takes power in the United States, its true nature and its policy toward our country will never change." Kim went on to give an itemized list of instructions for expanding the country's nuclear capabilities, including his wish for solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could theoretically reach the U.S. with their range of 9,320 miles.
However, in the same speech, Kim said that North Korea would not use its nuclear arsenal in a preemptive strike. He did, however, call for both land and sea-capable missiles, miniaturized nuclear weapons, tactical nukes, military surveillance satellites and hypersonic aircraft.
President Donald Trump established a diplomatic relationship with Kim briefly, though it never seemed to bring the two leaders closer to making a deal on North Korea's denuclearization. However, after their last attempt at a summit in Vietnam in February of 2019 fell apart, Kim reportedly began ramping up his nuclear efforts more than ever before. At the time, experts already feared that the intercontinental ballistic missiles Kim had would be able to reach the U.S., and last year he revealed his possession of an even bigger one.
Kim has also claimed that he no longer feels he needs to abide by moratoriums on weapons testing, including nuclear tests. However, he has not done any large-scale testing since 2017, when he launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. At the time, he faced strict sanctions from the United Nations.
At the North Korean congressional meeting on Friday, Kim also acknowledged economic hardship within his borders, which he blamed on both the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of his policies by unskilled administrators. However, the congress touted Kim's meetings with President Donald Trump as "a dramatic shift in power" between Pyongyang and Washington D.C., "demonstrating the dignity and prestige of our state." So far, Trump has not commented on the reports of these remarks.