SEOUL (Dispatches) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for increased military power and greater nuclear war deterrence, state news agency KCNA reported on Wednesday, as a rare ruling party congress came to a close after eight days of policy discussions.
The Eighth Party Congress occurred less than two weeks before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office and amid a prolonged gridlock in denuclearization talks.
"We must do everything we can to increase nuclear war deterrence even further as we build the strongest military capability,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying at the conclusion of the congress.
Since announcing a self-declared moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in 2018, Kim has called for continued production of nuclear weapons for the country’s arsenal, launched a series of smaller missiles, and unveiled what would be North Korea’s largest ICBM yet at a parade in October.
Separately, Kim Yo Jong, the leader’s sister and a member of the party Central Committee, criticized South Korea’s military for monitoring a parade in Pyongyang. The move was an expression of the South’s "hostile approach” towards the North, she said in a separate statement carried by KCNA.
South Korea’s military said on Monday it had detected signs that North Korea held a nighttime military parade on Sunday for the congress.
Kim’s remarks come after South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged to help engineer a breakthrough in stalled denuclearization talks.
The congress, which ran for eight days in Pyongyang, is the first since 2016, and just the second since 1980.
A meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), or parliament, is scheduled on Sunday to discuss adopting a law on the five-year economic plan and state budget, KCNA said.
Kim said the country must "continue to give fresh spur” in making the military more elite and powerful so that it could cope with "any form of threat and emergency.”
"The hostile forces will try to check our advance more frantically, and the world will watch how the political declaration and fighting program of our (party) are realized,” he said.
Kim also called for reasserting greater state control over the economy, boosting agricultural production and prioritizing the development of chemicals and metal industries in a five-year plan.
Kim labeled the United States as the North’s "principal enemy” and said the fate of bilateral relations would depend on whether Washington discards what Pyongyang perceives as hostile policies.