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NKorea Leader Reaffirms Arms Buildup in Party Meeting

NKorea Leader Reaffirms Arms Buildup in Party Meeting

Saturday, 11 June, 2022 - 11:15
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doubled down on his arms buildup in the face of what he described as an aggravating security environment while outside governments monitor signs of a possibly imminent North Korean nuclear test explosion.


Kim’s comments during a major three-day political conference that wrapped up Friday didn’t include any direct criticism of the United States or rival South Korea amid a prolonged deadlock in nuclear diplomacy.


Kim defended his accelerating weapons development as a rightful exercise of sovereign rights to self-defense and set forth further “militant tasks” to be pursued by his armed forces and military scientists, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency. The report on Saturday didn’t mention any specific goals or plans regarding testing activity, including the detonation of a nuclear device.


The plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee also reviewed key state affairs, including efforts to slow a COVID-19 outbreak the North first acknowledged last month and progress in economic goals Kim is desperate to keep alive amid strengthened virus restrictions.


“(Kim) said the right to self-defense is an issue of defending sovereignty, clarifying once again the party’s invariable fighting principle of power for power and head-on contest,” KCNA said.


The meeting came amid a provocative streak in missile demonstrations aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiating economic and security concessions from a position of strength, The Associated Press reported.


North Korea for years has mastered the art of manufacturing diplomatic crises with weapons tests and threats before eventually offering negotiations aimed at extracting concessions.


In a move that may have future foreign policy implications, Kim during the meeting promoted a veteran diplomat with deep experience in handling US affairs as his new foreign minister.


Choe Sun Hui, who is among the North’s most powerful women along with the leader’s sister Kim Yo Jong, had a major role in preparing Kim Jong Un for his meetings with former US President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019. Talks between Pyongyang and Washington derailed after the collapse of Kim’s second meeting with Trump in February 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demands for dropping US-led sanctions in exchange for limited disarmament steps.


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