clearn.png
Sunday September 25th, 2022 12:38AM

North Korean leader reaffirms arms buildup in party meeting

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — 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.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-led sanctions in exchange for limited disarmament steps.

Choe replaces Ri Son Gwon, a hard-liner with a military background who during the meeting was announced as Kim’s new point person on rival South Korea.

North Korea has a history of dialing up pressure on Seoul when it doesn’t get what it wants from Washington. While KCNA’s report on the meeting didn’t include any comments specifically referring to South Korea, it said the participants clarified “principles and strategic and tactical orientations to be maintained in the struggle against the enemy and in the field of foreign affairs.”

North Korea also announced a partial reshuffle of its military leadership to accommodate an influx of former counterintelligence officials named to key posts, in a possible step by Kim to further strengthen his grip over the military bureaucracy.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it isn’t immediately clear how North Korea’s comments and personnel moves would affect relations with the South. The ministry said in a statement that the South would sternly respond in conjunction with its U.S. ally if provoked by the North.

The ministry added that North Korean state media’s lack of specific descriptions about the state of the economy beyond some agricultural and construction campaigns suggests the country is struggling to meet development goals Kim presented in a five-year plan in early 2021.

North Korea has already set an annual record in ballistic launches through the first half of 2022, firing 31 missiles in over 18 different launch events, including its first demonstrations of intercontinental ballistic missiles in nearly five years.

Kim may up the ante soon as U.S. and South Korean officials say North Korea has all but finished preparations to detonate a nuclear device at its testing ground in the northeastern town of Punggye-ri. The site had been inactive since hosting the North’s sixth nuclear test in September 2017, when it said it detonated a thermonuclear bomb designed for its ICBMs.

The North’s unusually fast pace in testing activity underscores Kim’s dual intent to advance his arsenal and pressure the Biden administration over long-stalled nuclear diplomacy, experts say.

While the United States has said it would push for additional sanctions if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, the divisions between permanent members of the U.N. Security Council make the prospects for meaningful punitive measures unclear. Russia and China this year vetoed U.S.-sponsored resolutions that would have increased sanctions, insisting Washington should focus on reviving dialogue.

Kim’s pressure campaign hasn’t been slowed by a COVID-19 outbreak spreading across the largely unvaccinated autocracy of 26 million people.

During the meeting, North Korea maintained a dubious claim that its outbreak was easing despite outside concerns of huge death rates given the country’s broken health care system.

North Korea has restricted movement of people and supplies between regions, but large groups of workers have continued to gather at farms and industrial sites, being driven to shore up an economy decimated by decades of mismanagement, sanctions and pandemic border closures.

Kim during the meeting said the country’s “maximum emergency” anti-virus campaign of the past month has strengthened the economic sector’s ability to cope with the virus.

Kim has rejected U.S. and South Korean offers of vaccines and other help. GAVI, the nonprofit that runs the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program for vaccines, believes North Korea has begun administering doses given by its ally China. But the number of doses and how they were being distributed wasn’t known.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
8 straight: Hoskins, Phillies stay hot, top Diamondbacks 7-5
Rhys Hoskins hit a pair of solo home runs and Kyle Schwarber added a three-run shot to lead the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies to their eighth straight win
10:43PM ( 30 minutes ago )
North Korean leader reaffirms arms buildup in party meeting
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has doubled down on his arms buildup in the face of what he describes as an aggravating security environment
10:38PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Strider fans 8, Braves top Pirates 4-2 for 9th straight win
Spencer Strider outpitched Roansy Contreras in a matchup of hard-throwing rookies, Dansby Swanson had three hits, including a two-run homer and the Atlanta Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 for their ninth straight win
10:33PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel
The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights
8:51PM ( 2 hours ago )
Police tortured suspect in Amazon disappearance, family says
The family of the only suspect in the disappearance of a British journalist and Indigenous official in the Amazon is claiming he is innocent
7:58PM ( 3 hours ago )
Biden, leaders reach migration pact despite attendance flap
President Joe Biden and other Western Hemisphere leaders have announced what is being billed as a roadmap for countries to host large numbers of migrants and refugees
7:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
Marathon US hearings to decide fate of COVID shots for tots
Next week brings a marathon of hearings as the U.S. decides whether to open COVID-19 vaccinations to kids under 5
7:15PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP source: Kenny Atkinson agrees to be Hornets next coach
The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to terms on a contract with Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson to be their next head coach, says a person familiar with the situation
6:55PM ( 4 hours ago )
Judge blocks Texas investigating families of trans youth
A Texas judge has temporarily blocked the state from investigating families of transgender children who have received gender confirming care
6:18PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
Police: Shooting suspect under guard, hurt trooper released
Authorities say a West Virginia man accused of fatally shooting three co-workers at a western Maryland machine shop remains under police guard at a hospital, but a Maryland state trooper injured in a shootout with the shooting suspect has been treated and released
12:47PM ( 10 hours ago )
Infowars bankruptcy tossed in deal with Sandy Hook parents
A federal judge in Texas has dismissed the bankruptcy protection case of Infowars and two other companies controlled by Alex Jones
11:56AM ( 11 hours ago )
Hot reading on inflation sends stocks lower on Wall Street
Stocks are sinking on Wall Street and Treasury yields are moving sharply higher as markets shudder after another hot reading on inflation
9:43AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Stocks tumble after inflation worsens, raising rate fears
Stocks fell sharply on Friday following Wall Street’s cold realization that inflation got worse last month, not better, as investors had been hoping
2:53PM ( 8 hours ago )
Biden visiting LA port as high inflation persists as threat
President Joe Biden is set to speak at America’s busiest port with high inflation persisting
12:30PM ( 10 hours ago )
Ukraine fears a long war might cause West to lose interest
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its fourth month, officials in Kyiv have expressed fears that the specter of “war fatigue” could erode the West’s resolve to help the country push back Moscow’s aggression
11:29AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
8 straight: Hoskins, Phillies stay hot, top Diamondbacks 7-5
Rhys Hoskins hit a pair of solo home runs and Kyle Schwarber added a three-run shot to lead the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies to their eighth straight win
10:43PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Strider fans 8, Braves top Pirates 4-2 for 9th straight win
Spencer Strider outpitched Roansy Contreras in a matchup of hard-throwing rookies, Dansby Swanson had three hits, including a two-run homer and the Atlanta Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 for their ninth straight win
10:33PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Survivor of abusive facility searches for lost Korean roots
Joo-Rei Mathieson was one of the lucky kids, escaping a brutal South Korean facility where thousands of children and adults — mostly grabbed off the streets — were enslaved and often killed, raped and beaten in the 1970s and 1980s
10:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
US: China's military activity around Taiwan threatens region
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has stressed American support for Taiwan, suggesting at Asia’s premier defense forum that recent Chinese military activity around the self-governing island threatens to change the status quo
9:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
LEADING OFF: Cubs cut Frazier; Kittredge, Mize to TJ surgery
The up-and-down career of Clint Frazier took another turn when he was cut by the Chicago Cubs
9:54PM ( 1 hour ago )