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N.K. leader says negotiations with U.S. are first step to recognition as nuclear power: report

16:20 June 17, 2019

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told military leaders last year that talks with the United States are the "first step" to solidifying Pyongyang's status as a nuclear power, a news report said Monday.

Kim made the remarks in a meeting with key military commanders, Voice of America reported, citing a purported confidential document that the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea published in November for the education of military generals and officers.

"Whatever the outcome of the nuclear showdown with the U.S. is, you have to keep in mind that it is the first step toward winning the ultimate outcome of strengthening the nuclear force that we have built after overcoming various hardships and difficulties, and elevating our status as a world nuclear power," Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim also said that the U.S. had offered to hold a new round of negotiations in an attempt to rid the North of nuclear weapons and that he "won't miss this opportunity and is going to have an ultimate nuclear showdown with the U.S. president."

It was about three months before Kim's second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in February.

The remark suggests that Kim appears to have sought to make sure military leaders wouldn't be surprised even if he agreed to take denuclearization steps, such as dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear complex, at the talks with Trump, by assuring them that his ultimate goal of becoming a nuclear power remained unchanged.

South Korea's unification ministry said it cannot determine if the document is authentic.

The report came amid limited progress in the nuclear negotiations between U.S. and North Korea.

The second Trump-Kim summit abruptly ended without a deal as the two sides failed to find common ground over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization measures and Washington's sanctions relief.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) watches a performance given by amateur art groups of the wives of officers of units of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang on June 2, 2019, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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