NKorea Says Aims to Have World's Strongest Nuclear Force

This undated photo provided on Nov. 27, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, waves to scientists and workers, following the launch of what it says a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
This undated photo provided on Nov. 27, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, waves to scientists and workers, following the launch of what it says a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
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NKorea Says Aims to Have World's Strongest Nuclear Force

This undated photo provided on Nov. 27, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, waves to scientists and workers, following the launch of what it says a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
This undated photo provided on Nov. 27, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, waves to scientists and workers, following the launch of what it says a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country's intends to have the world's most powerful nuclear force as he promoted dozens of military officers involved in the recent launch of a new ballistic missile, state media reported on Sunday.

Reuters said that the announcement comes after Kim inspected a Nov. 18 test of the Hwasong-17, North Korea's largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and pledged to counter what he called US nuclear threats.

North Korea's "ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century," Kim said in the order promoting the officers, adding that building up the country's nuclear capabilities would reliably protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.

He described the Hwasong-17 as the "world's strongest strategic weapon" and said it demonstrated North Korea's resolve and ability to eventually build the world's strongest army.

North Korean scientists have made a "wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles," and were expected to expand and strengthen the country's nuclear deterrent capabilities at an extraordinarily rapid pace, Kim was also quoted as saying.

Kim was pictured in photos posing with scientists, engineers and military officials involved in the test.

According to state media, those workers pledged to defend the "absolute authority" of the party and Kim, and vowed that "our missiles will fly vigorously only in the direction indicated" by Kim.

Kim’s daughter made a public appearance again. She’s only about 10, but her new, bold photos are deepening the debate over whether she’s being primed as a successor.

The daughter, believed to be Kim’s second child named Ju Ae and about 9 or 10 years old, was first unveiled to the outside world last weekend in state media photos showing her observing the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch the previous day with her parents and other older officials. The daughter wearing a white puffy coat and red shoes was shown walking hand-in-hand with Kim past a huge missile loaded on a launch truck and watching a soaring weapon.

On Sunday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency mentioned her for the second time, saying she and Kim took group photos with scientists, officials and others involved in what it called the test-launch of its Hwasong-17 ICBM.



Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
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Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.

World leaders will join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a summit this weekend to explore ways of ending the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, but Russia isn't invited and the event will fall short of Kyiv's aim of isolating Moscow.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan are among those set to attend the June 15-16 meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.

India, which has helped Moscow survive the shock of economic sanctions, is expected to send a delegation. Turkey and Hungary, which similarly maintain cordial ties with Russia, will be represented by their foreign ministers.

But despite months of intense Ukrainian and Swiss lobbying, some others will not be there, most notably China, a key consumer of Russian oil and supplier of goods that help Moscow maintain its manufacturing base.

"This meeting is already a result," Zelenskiy said in Berlin on Tuesday, while acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.

Ninety-two countries and eight organizations will attend, Switzerland said. Organizers preparing a joint statement have battled to strike a balance between condemning Russia's actions and securing as many participants as possible, diplomats say.

A final draft of the summit declaration refers to Russia's "war" against Ukraine, and also underlines commitment to the UN charter and respect for international law, according to two people familiar with the document.

Participants not in agreement with the declaration have until the end of Friday to opt out, the sources said.

The Swiss foreign ministry declined to comment.

Switzerland wants the summit to pave the way for a "future peace process" in which Russia takes part - and to determine which country could take on the next phase.

'FUTILE'

The idea of a summit was originally floated after Zelenskiy presented a 10-point peace plan in late 2022.

Ulrich Schmid, a political scientist and Eastern Europe expert at the University of St. Gallen, said the summit appeared to be "a mixed bag" so far, given the show of support from some quarters and China's absence.

"Then the question arises: is peace actually doable?" Schmid added. "As long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is in power... it will be difficult."

Putin said on Friday that Russia would cease fire and enter peace talks if Ukraine dropped its NATO ambitions and withdrew its forces from four Ukrainian regions claimed by Moscow. Kyiv has repeatedly said its territorial integrity is non-negotiable.

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, has described the idea of a summit to which it is not invited as "futile".

Moscow casts its "special military operation" in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West say this is nonsense and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.

Given such entrenched differences, the summit will focus on parts of Zelenskiy's plan broad enough to be palatable to most, if not all, participants. These include the need to guarantee food security, nuclear safety, freedom of navigation, prisoner exchanges, and the return of children, officials said.

Meanwhile, China, along with Brazil, is pushing a separate peace plan for Ukraine that calls for the participation of both warring parties. Moscow has voiced its support for Beijing's efforts to end the conflict.

Kyiv has not hidden its frustration at China's decision to skip the Swiss summit. Zelenskiy even accused Beijing of helping Russia to disrupt it, an extraordinary outburst against a global superpower with unrivalled influence over Moscow.

On the battlefield, the gathering comes at a difficult time for Ukraine. Russian troops, who control around 18% of Ukrainian territory, are advancing in the east in a war that has killed tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, left villages, towns and cities in ruins and uprooted millions.