Kim Jong Un Tells U.S. Not to Test North Korea's Patience With Sanctions in New Year Warning

Kim Jong Un has issued a stark warning to the U.S. over sanctions placed on North Korea, saying the country would have "no choice" but to act if Washington continues with its "one-sided demands."

The leader said America must not misinterpret the patience of his people, speaking in a 30- minute speech that was aired on state television Tuesday.

President Donald Trump met Kim in Singapore in June 2018. At the time, Kim committed North Korea to "work toward complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula. Washington and Pyongyang appear to have interpreted what exactly that meant differently.

Kim said his country would not "create, test, use or proliferate nuclear weapons," CNN reported. While Trump said sanctions imposed on the nation would remain in place until North Korea gave up its nuclear arsenal, Pyongyang wanted the U.S. to remove sanctions because of the steps it had already taken to dismantle its nuclear program. Kim also wants the Trump administration to stop carrying out military exercises with South Korea.

According to Sky News, Kim said: "Now that North and South Korea decided to take the path of peace and prosperity, we insist that joint military exercises with outside forces should no longer be allowed and deployment of war equipment such as outside strategic assets should be completely stopped."

He said he would work toward "a result that will be welcomed by the international community" and said relations between the U.S. and North Korea would move at a "fast speed" if America was willing to work with his own administration. He also pointed to a potential second meeting with Trump.

Kim, however, also said North Korea would have "no choice but to defend our country's sovereignty and supreme interest, and find a new way to settle peace on our peninsula [if the U.S.] misinterprets our people's patience, and makes one-sided demands and continues down the path of sanctions and pressure on our republic."

Duyeon Kim, from the Center for a New American Security, told CNN that the New Year's message was "confident" and "normal," but that the message to the U.S. was clear: "He still sent a very firm word of caution, bordering a nuanced threat, that if Washington doesn't keep its Singapore promise and continues with sanctions, then he has Plan B in mind and will go his separate way. He's exuding confidence that his country isn't hung up over the U.S., that they can still prosper without Washington."

kim jong un new year
A TV screen showing the New Year speech by Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on January 1, 2019. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images