North Korean leader Kim Jong Un assumed the post of chairman of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) at a congress on May 9. In a report, Kim pledged as a "responsible nuclear power" not to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks and to strive to achieve denuclearization of the world.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is aimed at preventing any country other than five nuclear powers from going nuclear. At the same time, the pact mandates the five nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, which had armed themselves with nuclear weapons by the time the treaty went into force in 1970 -- to try to reduce their nuclear arms.
The international community has thus continued to criticize North Korea for its nuclear tests and test-firing of ballistic missiles. Regardless of Kim's pledges, it is impossible for the international community to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power.
Kim said his country would "boast grandeur as a nuclear superpower," and that North Korea was adopting a permanent policy of simultaneously developing nuclear weapons and promoting economic construction. He has also made it clear that Pyongyang will strengthen its nuclear capability under the pretext of "self-defense."
North Korea had threatened to launch a pre-emptive attack on the United States and South Korea if need be. The country has released videos depicting bombing attacks on U.S. and South Korean presidential offices on the internet. As such, Kim's pledge to strive to denuclearize the world has no credibility in the eyes of the international community.
Pyongyang is attempting to draw Japan, the United States and South Korea to the bargaining table by threatening them with its nuclear program. This attitude remains unchanged even though the country claims to be a "responsible nuclear power." Although Kim touched on dialogue between the United States and North Korea and North-South talks, Washington and Seoul won't take Pyongyang's stance seriously.
North Korea's policy of developing nuclear weapons while promoting economic construction will be only a burden on the country's economy. The recent report from Pyongyang states that North Korea will aim to improve its people's livelihoods through its five-year strategy of developing its national economy. But this lofty aim will merely be a pie in the sky unless the country shows willingness to abandon its nuclear program. To achieve the goals outlined in the strategy, it is essential for North Korea to expand its economic relations with other countries. However, it is difficult to do so as long as the international community imposes economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.
The report frankly acknowledges that North Korea's economy has yet to reach high levels. It also admits that North Korea became isolated from the rest of the world after socialist countries collapsed one after another toward the end of the Cold War era, highlighting a realistic aspect of Kim's recognition of the current situation his country faces.
Nevertheless, the report is problematic in that its future outlook is still based on self-righteous logic.
Since the 1990s, North Korea has been unable to announce a long-term economic plan. All the more for that, the Kim regime apparently aspires to demonstrate outstanding achievements in 2020, the final year of the five-year strategy. However, its strategy will never be successful if the country is to stick to its nuclear weapons program.