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.”


Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

Updated 21 June 2018
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Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

TOKYO: Japan has halted evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack in the wake of historic talks between Washington and Pyongyang, local media reported Thursday.
Government officials did not immediately confirm the reports, but authorities in one town said they were suspending a drill planned for next week on orders from Tokyo.
The decision comes after US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un met last week in Singapore, with the pair signing a joint document calling for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Yaita in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo had been planning an evacuation drill for next week involving some 800 residents including 350 school children, city official Yutaka Yanagida said.
But the city suddenly canceled all preparations late Wednesday after being instructed by the government that “drills should be postponed for the time being following a change in the environment after the US-North Korea summit,” he said.
Contacted by AFP, a Cabinet Office official said the government would announce its policy on evacuation drills on Friday, declining to comment further.
Last year, Pyongyang fired two missiles over Japan and it has splashed others into the sea near the country, sparking a mix of panic and outrage.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Tokyo residents scrambled for cover in the Japanese capital’s first evacuation drill for a military attack by Pyongyang.
North Korea has singled out Japan, a key US ally in the region, for verbal attacks, threatening to “sink” the country into the sea and to turn it into “ashes.”
But the regional mood has turned toward diplomacy since the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea, which set off a series of diplomatic moves culminating in the Trump-Kim meet.