North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said on Sunday that the country is in the final stages of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The North’s KN-08 road-mobile ICBM with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers is capable, in theory, of hitting targets on the U.S. mainland. In his verbal New Year’s message broadcast by the state-run TV station, the young leader also said the North has become a powerful state with nuclear weapons last year, boosted by the success of its hydrogen bomb and nuclear warhead explosion tests.
Next year will be the most opportune time for North Korea to bolster its nuclear program because of upcoming leadership changes in the United States and South Korea, according to a senior North Korean official who defected recently to the South. ‘With South Korea holding presidential elections and the U.S. undergoing an administration transition, the North sees 2017 as the prime time for nuclear development,’ said Thae Yong-ho, who was North Korea’s second highest ranking diplomat in London.
Kim Jong Un on Saturday celebrated his fifth anniversary as the leader of North Korea, with the communist monarchy entering its 71st year. Taking over from his father, whose demise was observed at monuments and center plazas across the the nation, Kim has consolidated power over the last five years, especially with the execution of his powerful uncle and the purges that ensued. Also under Kim’s rule, the country’s nuclear and missiles program has flourished. Of the five nuclear tests North Korea has conducted, three have been under his watch and two, including its most powerful to date, were conducted this year.
GENEVA- North Korea protested on Tuesday a United Nations report on alleged abductions of foreign nationals by Pyongyang and the many Korean families forcibly separated across the divided peninsula since the 1950s war. So Se Pyong, the North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said he would lodge the complaint to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on Tuesday. Zeid’s spokesman confirmed that the meeting was scheduled but would not comment further. “It’s really nonsense. We didn’t make that kind of abductions,” so said at the Geneva mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
On Friday, the government decided to strengthen unilateral sanctions against North Korea using measures such as expanding the range of entities and individuals subject to asset freezes. The decision follows North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. The new measures, which are in line with the unilateral sanctions introduced in February, include expanding a reentry ban to include people who have traveled to North Korea. The government intends to urge Pyongyang to change its position by stringently blocking the departure and entry of people linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and flow of funds, according to sources.
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday adopted a new sanctions resolution against North Korea, ramping up earlier punitive measures following the reclusive country’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September. The 17-page resolution was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council after the text was settled upon in protracted negotiations between the United States, its author, and China, the North’s closest ally and major trading partner.