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Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday called the United States his country's "biggest enemy" and pushed to continue expanding North Korea's arsenal, according to text of his remarks at the Workers' Party Congress meeting published by state media.

Why it matters: Kim's comments come days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

  • "...Biden has promised 'principled diplomacy' with North Korea, implying a break with President Donald Trump's high-stakes summits with Kim Jong-un," NPR writes.
  • Kim said he did not intend to use nuclear weapons unless "hostile forces" planned to attack his country, per Al Jazeera. He did note that North Korea should expand its nuclear arsenal and improve its long-range missile capabilities, and called his country a “responsible nuclear weapons owner.”

The big picture: Kim mentioned the only way the U.S. and North Korea could reach peaceful relations would be if the U.S. withdrew its North Korea hostile policy.

What he's saying: "Our foreign political activities ought to be focused and directed on subduing and defeating the United States, our biggest enemy, and the main obstacle to our revolutionary developments," Kim said.

  • "No matter who is in power in the U.S., the true nature of the U.S. and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change," he continued.
  • "The reality is that we need to tirelessly strengthen our national defense capabilities in order to deter military threats from the U.S. and achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula."

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cracks in nuclear command and control

An atomic bomb test in Nevada in 1957. Photo: © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to members on Friday that she's spoken to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley about preventing President Trump from accessing the nuclear codes.

Why it matters: Pelosi's message surfaced an uncomfortable reality about America's nuclear control structure: if the president wants to use nukes, there is no clear way to stop him.

43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

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