Christy Lee contributed to this report which originated on VOA’s Korean Service.
An official North Korean document obtained by the Voice of America suggests Kim Jong Un does not intend to give up his regime’s nuclear weapons, a position that appears to contradict the Trump administration’s certainty that North Korea will denuclearize.
The document is a teaching guide for instructing top military officials on Pyongyang’s official internal position prior to a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. The document makes clear that Kim saw the meeting in Hanoi to strike “a final deal” as a means to acceptance as a “global nuclear strategic state.”
Kim is quoted as saying he would use the meeting “to further consolidate nuclear power that we have created.”
The Hanoi summit failed to reach a deal due to a clash of views on denuclearization and sanctions relief.
In response to the document VOA obtained on Sunday, a State Department spokesperson told VOA Korean Service on Monday that “President Trump remains committed to the goals the two leaders set out at the Singapore summit of transformed U.S.-North Korea relations, building lasting peace, and complete denuclearization.”
The spokesperson continued, “As President Trump has said, he believes Chairman Kim will fulfill his commitment to denuclearize.”
Morgan Ortagus, the State Department spokesperson, reiterated that position later in the day when asked about the document at a press briefing. “We certainly don’t comment and speculate on every report,” she said. “But since you asked me, President Trump and the Secretary believe that Chairman Kim will fulfill his commitment to denuclearize, and that remains our policy.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly said he is “confident” that the U.S. will make a progress toward denuclearizing North Korea.
Pompeo also said that Kim told him “face-to-face, personally” that he would denuclearize North Korea.
And, in an interview that aired on Sunday, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he thinks Kim is still building nuclear weapons, the president said, “I don’t know.” Trump continued, “I hope not. He promised me he wouldn’t be.”
The confidential document indicates that Kim has made two different nuclear policy statements. One, not included in the document, was targeted to foreign audiences, such as that delivered in his 2019 New Year message that conveyed Kim’s unwavering commitment for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The military elite, according to the document, were told in December that Kim intended his second meeting with Trump “to achieve the final outcome of raising the [North Korea’s] status as a world-class nuclear force nation.”
Kim continued, “The Korea People’s Army must firmly hold the nuclear weapons [as] our all-around security sword to protect the revolutionary leadership like an impregnable fortress.”
Kim further said the U.S. is “so terrified by our nuclear power” it proposed meeting with North Korea to negotiate and “to get rid of our nuclear weapons by [any] means.”
Published by the Korea Workers’ Party Publishing Company in November 2018, the document was prepared as a material for December training lectures for North Korea’s top military officials.
The South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which oversees relations with North Korea, said it is aware of the report VOA obtained and that its authenticity needs to be verified.
Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said the document was missing key elements and the format of the date is also not standard, according to the Korean news agency Newsis, reported UPI.
The documents acquired by VOA match other recent documents leaked to the Korean Service from a trusted source.
In an interview with VOA Korean Service on Sunday, Ri Jong Ho, a former North Korean senior official who defected to South Korea in 2014 and moved to the U.S. in 2016, said he attended training lectures similar to the ones mentioned in the document.
Ri said, “The document directly reflects Kim’s thoughts and the ideology of the Korea Workers’ Party because it is published by the Party.”
Ri also said he has learned through his sources in North Korea that the government is reinforcing the country as a nuclear state and establishing North Korea as a nuclear state is the policy of the party.
The document describes Kim’s aspiration to rule the world with nuclear weapons.
“The dear supreme commander will dominate the world with the nuclear weapons, will make the U.S. apologize and compensate for us for decades of bullying our people, and will declare to the entire world that the world’s powerful order will be reshaped by the Juche-Korea, not the United States,” according to the document. Juche is the North Korean ideology of total self-reliance.
Ri, who now lives in Virginia, worked for North Korea’s Office 39, the Workers’ Party operation known for raising money for Kim through illicit activities.
Ri defected to South Korea in 2014 out of fear that his family might be targeted after Kim executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek for being “a traitor for all ages” and purged people who worked for Jang. Ri worried his family could be the next to face such threat and escaped to South Korea with his family before moving to the U.S.