S. Korea to boost capabilities to counter NK missile threats: defense ministry

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un held three summits since 2018 without solving the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons

The development is a surprise because Kim Yo Jong, who became an alternate member of the Politburo past year, was widely expected to receive a full bureau membership during a ruling Workers' Party congress that ended Tuesday.

In speeches during the meeting, Kim addressed the North's adversarial relationship with Washington, labeling the U.S. as the North's biggest and main enemy.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on January 12, 2021.

The party meetings - the last full session of the 17th Central Committee, the 18th Party Congress and the first session of the 18th Central Committee - take place just a week before the change of administrations in Washington and the departure of the only United States president who has met with a North Korean leader.

"The North will continue its hard-line policy, will not denuclearize, will talk to the USA but on what Kim Jong Un perceives as an equal footing as a nuclear power", said David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

North Korean military plans have progressed rapidly since Kim Jong Un came to power. During its last military parade in October, the North unveiled a series of new strategic weapons, including what appeared to be its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile.

The North's weapons programmes have made rapid progress under Kim, including by far its most powerful nuclear blast to date and missiles capable of reaching the entire continental United States, at a cost of increasingly stringent worldwide sanctions.

The designation, in addition to his other titles of Chairman and Supreme Leader, was apparently aimed at boosting Kim's authority amid the country's economic challenges.

The declaration provoked derision from Kim Yo Jong, who called it "senseless" and a demonstration of a "hostile attitude" by the South.

During the congress, Mr. Kim made the observation of the failure of the economic policy carried out recently in North Korea, declaring that "almost all sectors" had not reached their objectives.

On Tuesday, the North said it invited officials and others long involved in government affairs as special guests to "celebrations", raising the possibility that North Korea might be preparing a military parade. In the meeting, Kim Jong Un pledged to further develop his country's nuclear capabilities and admitted mistakes over the handling of the economy, AFP reported. The parliamentary session is likely to decide on legal revisions and personnel matters based on what was put forth at the party congress. "They are the idiot and top the world's list in misbehavior as they are only keen on things provoking world laughter".

And Kim's influential sister Kim Yo Jong indicated that a military parade had been scheduled to accompany the congress.

It said it was "closely tracking" the activity, which could have been the "actual event or its rehearsal". During the congress, Kim vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal and build a stronger, self-reliant economy.

Kim Yo Jong confirmed the holding of "military parade in the capital city", but dismissed any holding of "military exercises targeting anybody nor launch of anything".

Kim Yo-jong is not on the list of those appointed to the Central Committee, which could suggest a decline in his influence over his brother and the head of power.

North Korea, hit hard by worldwide sanctions and more isolated than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic, is in the throes of enormous economic difficulties.



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