North Korea hints at resumption of nuclear and ICBM tests to counter US hostility

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Seoul: Accusing the United States of hostility and threats, North Korea said on Thursday it would consider restarting “all temporarily suspended activities” it had halted during its diplomacy with the Trump administration, in a apparent threat to resume testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un chaired a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Politburo, where officials set policy goals to “immediately strengthen” the military capabilities of the North to counter the “hostile movements” of the Americans.

The officials issued “instructions to reconsider on a comprehensive scale the confidence-building measures we have taken on our own initiative and to promptly consider the matter of restarting all temporarily suspended activities,” the KCNA said.

The North’s Foreign Ministry had already warned of stronger and more explicit action after the Biden administration last week imposed new sanctions against continued North missile-testing activities.

Kim unilaterally suspended nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing in 2018 as he began diplomacy with then-President Donald Trump in an effort to leverage his nuclear weapons for much-needed economic benefits.

But negotiations have stalled since their second meeting failed in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s request for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

The North has stepped up its weapons displays in recent months, including four rounds of missile launches this month, as Kim revives Pyongyang’s old tightrope playbook to extract concessions from Washington and of its neighbors as it grapples with a rotting economy under pandemic-related difficulties and crippling US-led sanctions against its nuclear ambitions.

Last week, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on five North Koreans for their role in obtaining equipment and technology for North Korean missile programs, in its response to the first North Korean tests this this month.

The State Department has ordered sanctions against another North Korean, a Russian, and a Russian company for their broader support of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction activities. The Biden administration has also said it will pursue additional UN sanctions for the North’s continued testing.

The sanctions announcement came just hours after North Korean state media said Kim oversaw a successful test of a hypersonic missile last Tuesday, the country’s second test of the alleged system in a week, and claimed that the weapon would greatly increase the country’s “war”. deterrent”.

The North tested short-range ballistic missiles on Friday and Monday in apparent retaliation for US sanctions, which came after its Foreign Ministry warned of a ‘stronger and more certain reaction’ if Washington maintains its confrontational stance. .

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Posted: Thursday January 20th 2022, 07:15 IST

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