Kim Jong Un praises North Korea nuclear program, promotes sister to center of power

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong attend an opening ceremony of a newly constructed residential complex in Pyongyang on April 13 this year. (Reuters)
Updated 08 October 2017
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Kim Jong Un praises North Korea nuclear program, promotes sister to center of power

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent” which guarantee North Korea’s sovereignty, state media reported on Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump said “only one thing will work” in dealing with the isolated country.
Trump did not make clear to what he was referring, but his comments seemed to be a further suggestion that military action was on his mind.
In a speech to a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday, a day before Trump’s most recent comments, state media said Kim had addressed the “complicated international situation.”
North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,” Kim said, referring to the “protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists.”
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
North Korea is preparing to test-launch such a missile, a Russian lawmaker who had just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.
Donald Trump has previously said the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.
The situation proved that North Korea’s policy of “byungjin,” meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy was “absolutely right,” Kim Jong Un said in the speech.
“The national economy has grown on their strength this year, despite the escalating sanctions,” said Kim, referring to UN Security Council resolutions put in place to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
The meeting also handled some personnel changes inside North Korea’s secretive and opaque ruling center of power, state media said.
Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was made an alternate member of the politburo — the top decision-making body over which Kim Jong Un presides.
Alongside Kim Jong Un himself, the promotion makes the her the only other millennial member of the influential body.
Her promotion indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hee, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.
“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website.
In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo Jong along with other North Korean officials over “severe human rights abuses.”
Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, two of the three men behind Kim’s banned rocket program, were also promoted.
North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who named Donald Trump “President Evil” in a bombastic speech to the UN General Assembly last month, was promoted to full vote-carrying member of the politburo.
“Ri can now be safely identified as one of North Korea’s top policy makers,” said Madden.
“Even if he has informal or off the record meetings, Ri’s interlocutors can be assured that whatever proposals they proffer will be taken directly to the top,” he said.


Kenyan police say gunmen kidnap Italian volunteer, wound 5 in attack on coast

Updated 20 min 28 sec ago
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Kenyan police say gunmen kidnap Italian volunteer, wound 5 in attack on coast

  • The wounded, who were all under the age of 25, were taken to hospital
  • The men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama

NAIROBI: Kenya said on Wednesday gunmen kidnapped an Italian volunteer in the coastal region of Kilifi during an attack in which five people were wounded, the first time a foreigner has been abducted in the East African country in several years.
“The gang ... abducted an Italian lady aged 23 years who is a volunteer of Africa Milele Onlus, an NGO operating in the area,” the National Police Service said on Twitter.
The wounded, who were all under the age of 25, were taken to hospital and officers were pursuing the attackers, police said.
The men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama on Tuesday evening, police said. The town is west of Malindi, a major tourism destination on the coast.
There was no immediate comment from the Italian government.
Police did not say if the gunmen were suspect militants from Al-Shabab, an Islamist group based in neighboring Somalia that has launched deadly attacks in Kenya for years, including the 2013 attack on a shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which nearly 70 people were killed.
“Neither the reasons for the attack nor the identity of the attackers have been established,” police said.
An unidentified witness told Kenyan TV channel KTN News: “The European lady got out of her room, instead of lying on the ground, to inquire what was going on. One of the attackers then slapped her.”
“Their aim was to get money but they took off with her to the river and, before leaving the village, they started shooting in the air and they shot one woman and four boys,” the witness said.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab aims to topple Somalia’s foreign-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. They have intensified attacks in Kenya since it sent troops into Somalia in 2011.
Suspected Shabab militants have launched several attacks in recent months in which Kenyan soldiers have been killed but those attacks have all taken place in Lamu County, which is north of Kilifi and borders Somalia. The group has beheaded people in more than one of those attacks in Lamu County.
The town of Chakama in Kilifi County where the attack occurred is nearly 300 km (185 miles) southwest of the Kenya-Somalia border.