North reiterates will to keep nukes

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North reiterates will to keep nukes

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, yesterday inspects a fishery unit at the North Korean People’s Army’s Large Combined Unit 313, as reported by the North’s Korean Central News Agency yesterday. From the left are Ri Yong-gil, director of the Army’s operations bureau; Jang Jong-nam, the North’s defense minister; Kim Kyok-sik, chief of general staff; and Choe Ryong-hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the Army. [Rodong Sinmun]

Despite China’s call for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea reaffirmed its will to keep its nuclear weapons, a key mouthpiece of the communist state said.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party of North Korea, said in an editorial yesterday that they will not scrap their nuclear weapons program, which they call “a shield” from nuclear threats from the United States.

“In a condition of continuous nuclear threats from the United States, we don’t want to unilaterally abandon our war deterrent by sacrificing ourselves,” the editorial said, with the headline “U.S. should throw away its principle of threats and provocations.”

“Our war deterrent force is a powerful, precious sword and a reliable shield to safeguard peace in order to protect the utmost interest of the state,” it said. “To realize and guarantee peace on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. nuclear threats and the anti-DPRK [North Korea] confrontational policies should be terminated.”

The editorial came after the first high-level, fence-mending visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s special envoy to Beijing last week.

On the last day of the three-day trip, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and sought China’s help to open up a dialogue with the outside world. Choe also said Pyongyang would join any kind of dialogue, including the so-called six-party talks.

In response, Xi stressed the importance of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, apparently urging Pyongyang to stop its pursuit of nuclear bombs, according to local Chinese media.

When it comes to Pyongyang’s willingness to rejoin dialogue, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has demanded “sincerity” from North Korea.

“So far, we had six-party talks with North Korea over a long period,” Cho Tai-young, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a daily briefing yesterday. “We agree with many people’s perspectives that there was no significant progress in the talks so far.

“Now, a dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless,” Cho said. “As Minister Yun has said, North Korea should first show its sincerity [in the talks].”

Since the envoy’s trip to China, North Korean leader Kim has been reportedly on vacation, accompanied by a group of high-ranking confidants and officials, sources in Seoul told the JoongAng Ilbo.

On Friday, when the North Korean delegation led by Choe returned to Pyongyang, Kim took a vacation to Wonsan, Kangwon Province of North Korea, along with top military officials including Kim Kyok-sik, newly appointed chief of the general staff of the army, and Jang Jong-nam, newly minted defense minister.

Choe, director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army and is the second-highest in the military after Kim, also followed the vacation later.

Sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that Kim appears to be pondering some grave state issues during his vacation. He could make a grave announcement soon in regard to the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex or the six-party talks, the sources said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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