Kim vows to make North Korea ‘strongest nuclear power’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to various units in Samjiyon County, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 9, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 December 2017
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Kim vows to make North Korea ‘strongest nuclear power’

SEOUL: Kim Jong-Un has vowed to make North Korea the “world’s strongest nuclear power,” state media reported Wednesday, as the reclusive nation shows little sign of reining in a weapons program fueling global alarm.
The North has rattled the international community with a flurry of missile launches and its largest ever nuclear test in recent months in its bid to develop a warhead capable of striking the United States.
Kim told workers behind the recent test of a new missile Pyongyang said was capable of that feat, that his country “will victoriously advance and leap as the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world,” in a ceremony on Tuesday, according to state news agency KCNA.
His comments come as global powers scramble for a response to the crisis, with the US backing stringent economic and diplomatic sanctions on Kim’s regime to halt its nuclear drive.
But the North has continued to lob missiles, posing a major challenge to US President Donald Trump.
Fears of a catastrophic conflict with the nuclear-armed regime have spiked as the leaders have taunted each other, with the US President pejoratively dubbing his rival “Little Rocket Man.”
Tension flared anew in the flashpoint peninsula after the November 29 launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which the North claimed could deliver a “super-large heavy warhead” anywhere on the US mainland.
Many analysts suggest that the rocket is capable of reaching the US mainland but voice skepticism that Pyongyang has mastered the advanced technology needed to allow the rocket to survive re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Last month’s launch was the first test of any kind since September 15, and quashed hopes that the North may have held back in order to open the door to a negotiated solution to the nuclear standoff.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was confident that Washington is doing all it can to force North Korea to discuss nuclear disarmament.
“As I’ve told people many times, I will continue our diplomatic efforts until the first bomb drops,” he said in a speech to the Atlantic Council policy forum.
But he also warned that the US military stands ready to act if necessary.
Washington has ramped up the pressure on the North and last week the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise.
Pyongyang slammed those maneuvers as a provocation, accusing the drills of “revealing its intention to mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike.”


Bomb blast at Athens headquarters of media group

Updated 13 sec ago
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Bomb blast at Athens headquarters of media group

ATHENS: A bomb blast early Monday damaged a building in Athens housing the headquarters of Greece’s private radio and television network Skai, but there were no casualties, police said.
Anti-terrorist police opened an investigation into the attack that focused on Greek extremist groups.
Attacks targeting broadcasting groups, public companies or embassies have been frequent in Greece in recent years, and have been blamed on anarchist or far-left groups.
The coalition government led by leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras condemned the blast as “an attack on democracy” while his administration decried an act of “terrorism.”
In a statement, Tsipras slammed what he termed “an attack on democracy by cowardly and dark forces,” vowing that “they will not realize their goal of terrorizing and disorientating.”
He further offered his “sincere support to journalists and all those who work at the station” targeted.
The homemade device went off at around 2:30am (0030 GMT), 45 minutes after an anonymous telephone warning to another TV network.
Police cordoned off the neighborhood in the Athens suburb of Neo Phaliro and evacuated the building, which contains the offices of Skai, a group owned by the Alafouzos shipping family, as well as those of Kathimerini, a center-right daily critical of the government.
Police said the bomb was placed in a narrow street near a fence around the building and smashed windows on the facade.
Skai said in a statement the blast caused “major damage.”
“The terrorist attack will not discourage us,” it said, accusing the government of failing to do enough to protect the media despite “recurrent threats against the station.”
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos rejected the accusation.
The minister for civil protection, Olga Gerovassili, visited the site with police.
“Democracy is not threatened,” she said, while warning against those who “leave the way open to terrorism or fascism.”
There were no claims of responsibility by late afternoon but some analysts said the bombing bore the hallmarks of an attack by the far left Popular Fighters Group (OLA).
It has previously claimed to be behind at least five other similar blasts, none causing fatalities, since its formation in 2013.
The group last claimed a bombing outside the Athens Court of Appeal in December 2017, which caused extensive material damage.
Last month, police defused a bomb outside the Athens home of a controversial prosecutor following two anonymous telephoned warnings to the media.