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Rodong Sinmun says regime will keep nukes

Mar 07,2018
Pyongyang vowed to boost its nuclear force Tuesday as long as Washington threatens the Korean Peninsula with its own such weapons, defying calls from the United States to dismantle its nuclear development program in order to enter talks with the Donald Trump White House.

North Korea’s typical refusal to denuclearize came at an atypical time, as five presidential envoys from South Korea were in the North to discuss an inter-Korean summit and broker a meeting between Pyongyang and Washington.

In a press conference hours before departing on Monday, Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office in the Blue House, who was tapped by President Moon Jae-in to lead the 10-member delegation to the North, said he would “clearly deliver the president’s strong and firm resolve to build a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

North Korea’s latest rebuff to denuclearize was issued in an editorial run by the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper Tuesday, indicating the yawning chasm between the North and the United States as Trump refuses to engage in any official dialogue with the regime unless it was willing to end its nuclear program.

Pyongyang has consistently stated that it would not “beg” for talks or start discussions with the Trump administration on any sort of precondition.

“Our nuclear program,” read a Korean version of the editorial, “is the sword of justice aimed at infinitely wiping off the United States’ blood-tainted cruel history of nuclear crimes and the formation of a nuclear devil mortal enemy.”

As long as the United States blackmails other countries with its nuclear weapons, the piece continued, the North will brace its will to safeguard the Korean Peninsula “some hundred to thousands times more.”

The North accused Washington of pushing the regime to a brink of war by deploying nuclear strategic assets around the peninsula, adding that the Trump administration’s mentioning of a pre-emptive strike was in itself a “brazen declaration of war.”

On Monday, 38 North, a North Korea analysis website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, wrote that recent commercial satellite imagery from North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility suggested resumed production of plutonium, presumably for its nuclear weapons program.

Over the past few months, an increasing number of personnel have also been observed at various locations throughout the complex, particularly in the courtyards of support areas and compounds, the website wrote, though it warned that allowing such visibility may be “intentional – perhaps a play to satellites and external observers.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]