Donald Trump is neck-deep in controversies, but he has vowed for a peaceful power transfer after the violent storming of the US Capitol. But Trump's departure won't be an easy one as President-elect Joe Biden is facing new obstacles one after another ahead of officially taking the reins of the White House. This time, it is Kim Jong Un, the Supreme leader of North Korea, who's causing nuisance ahead of Biden's big day.
It was with wide publicity that Trump and Kim met thrice in the last four years. Results or not, a dialogue was started – something Biden must attempt to continue. Going by the looks of Kim's recent actions, it doesn't set a welcoming stage for Biden for having any dialogue between the US and North Korea.
At a rare Party Congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to strengthen Pyongyang's military capabilities, a state media report said on Thursday. Celebrating his birthday, Kim Jong Un unveiled a long wish-list of new weapons, which include longer-range missiles, super large warheads, spy satellites and a nuclear-powered submarine, BBC reported. This is in addition to hypersonic missile, military reconnaissance satellites, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, new UAVs, and tactical nuclear weapons.
As alarming as the plans to expand weapon arsenal sounds, what comes with greater concern is the fact any new weapon needs to be tested. And well, North Korea has a reputation when it comes to testing its weapons.
Expanding military arsenal
Kim Jong Un's ambitious military plans were announced at the biggest political events in North Korea in the last five years. The plans to expand the country's military arsenal has a threatening tone and the timing of it – ahead of US presidency change points it to being exactly a threat.
"Kim's announcements no doubt are meant to emphasise to the incoming US administration that a failure to take quick action will result in North Korea qualitatively advancing its capabilities in ways deleterious to US and South Korean interests," said Ankit Panda, author of Kim Jong-un and the Bomb, BBC reported.
Panda rightly noted that the threat should be taken serious by the Biden administration. It's as good as anyone's guess as to where the US-North Korea negotiations stand. The last three times Trump and Kim met, there was no agreement on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.
"Even if Kim can't accomplish the entirety of his agenda, we should not bet against his will to push through and begin testing and manufacturing some of the systems he named," said Mr Panda.
Kim Jong Un, in his speech in front of thousands of delegates at the Workers' Party Congress, bluntly acknowledged US as its "biggest enemy." But there's light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long the tunnel, when Kim said the option of diplomacy isn't completely ruled out.