Kim Jong Un tours military HQ, calls nuclear test a 'self-defensive step'

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea's leader has taken a victory tour of military headquarters to celebrate the country's widely disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test.

See Full Article

Kim Jong Un called the nuclear test "a self-defensive step for reliably defending the peace on the Korean Peninsula and the regional security from the danger of nuclear war caused by the U.S.-led imperialists," according to a dispatch Sunday from state-run Korean Central News Agency.

"It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state and a fair action that nobody can criticize," Kim was reported as saying during his tour of the People's Armed Forces Ministry.

The tone of Kim's comments, which sought to glorify him and justify a test that has been viewed with outrage by much of the world, is typical of state media propaganda.

But they also provide insight into North Korea's long-maintained argument that it is the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan, and a "hostile" U.S. policy that seeks to topple the government in Pyongyang, that make North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons absolutely necessary.

Kim posed for photos with leading military officials in front of statues of the two members of his family who had led the country previously -- Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.

In his reported comments, he also sought to link the purported success of the nuclear test to a ruling Workers' Party convention in May, the party's first since 1980. He's expected to use the congress to announce major state policies and shake up the country's political elite to further consolidate his power.

Kim's tour came as world powers looked for ways to punish the North over a nuclear test that, even if not of a hydrogen bomb, still likely pushes Pyongyang closer to its goal of a nuclear-armed missile that can reach the U.S. mainland.

In the wake of the test on Wednesday, the two Koreas have settled into the kind of Cold War-era standoff that has defined their relationship over the past seven decades. Since Friday, South Korea has been blasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda from huge speakers along the border, and the North is reportedly using speakers of its own in an attempt to keep its soldiers from hearing the South Korean messages.

A top North Korean ruling party official's recent warning that the South's broadcasts have pushed the Korean Peninsula "toward the brink of war" is typical of Pyongyang's over-the-top rhetoric. But it is also indicative of the real fury that the broadcasts, which criticize the country's revered dictatorship, cause in the North.

North Korea considers the South Korean broadcasts tantamount to an act of war. When Seoul Korea briefly resumed propaganda broadcasts in August after an 11-year break, Seoul says the two Koreas exchanged artillery fire.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an anonymous military source, reported late Saturday that the North had started its own broadcasts, presumably to keep its soldiers from hearing the South Korean broadcasts. The North's broadcasts were too weak to hear clearly on the South Korean side of the border. South Korean military officials wouldn't confirm the Yonhap report.

Besides the "brink of war" comment, Workers' Party Secretary Kim Ki Nam said in comments broadcasts on state TV on Friday that Pyongyang's rivals are "jealous" of the North's successful hydrogen bomb test.

Many outside governments and experts question whether the blast was in fact a powerful hydrogen test.

South Korean troops, near about 10 sites where loudspeakers started blaring propaganda Friday, were on the highest alert, but have not detected any unusual movement from North Korea along the border, said an official from Seoul's Defence Ministry, who refused to be named, citing office rules.

Yonhap said Seoul had deployed missiles, artillery and other weapons systems near the border to swiftly deal with any possible North Korean provocation. The ministry did not confirm the report.

Officials say broadcasts from the South's loudspeakers can travel about 10 kilometres (6 miles) during the day and 24 kilometres (15 miles) at night. That reaches many of the huge force of North Korean soldiers stationed near the border, as well as residents in border towns such as Kaesong, where the Koreas jointly operate an industrial park that has been a valuable cash source for the impoverished North.

Seoul also planned to use mobile speakers to broadcast from a small South Korean island just a few kilometres (miles) from North Korean shores.

While the South's broadcasts also include news and pop music, much of the programming challenges North Korea's government more directly.

"We hope that our fellow Koreans in the North will be able to live in a society that doesn't invade individual lives as soon as possible," a female presenter said in parts of the broadcast that officials revealed to South Korean media. "Countries run by dictatorships even try to control human instincts."

Marathon talks by the Koreas in August eased anger and stopped the broadcasts, which Seoul started after blaming North Korean land mines for maiming two soldiers. It might be more difficult to do so now. Seoul can't stand down easily, some analysts say, and it's highly unlikely that the North will express regret for its nuclear test, which is a source of intense national pride.

Responding to the bomb test, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China, the North's only major ally and biggest aid provider, to end "business as usual" with North Korea.

Diplomats at a U.N. Security Council emergency session pledged to swiftly pursue new sanctions. For current sanctions and any new penalties to work, better co-operation and stronger implementation from China is seen as key.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries also discussed the deployment of U.S. "strategic assets," Seoul's Defence Ministry said. Officials refused to elaborate, but the assets would likely include B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines.

After North Korea's third nuclear test, in 2013, the U.S. took the unusual step of sending its most powerful warplanes to drills with South Korea in a show of force. B-2 and B-52 bombers are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

It may take weeks or longer to confirm or refute the North's claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • After weeks of protest in South Korea, crowds celebrate Park's impeachment

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- The previous time South Korea's parliament voted to impeach a president, ruling party lawmakers bawled and hurled ballot boxes, a man set himself on fire in front of the National Assembly, and thousands glumly held candlelight vigils night after night to save late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun. Source
  • Colombia's Santos accepts Nobel Peace Prize as 'gift from heaven'

    World News CTV News
    STOCKHOLM -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, saying it gave a boost to the "impossible dream" of ending his country's half-century-long civil war. In his acceptance speech, Santos described the award as a "gift from heaven" and dedicated it to all Colombians, particularly the 220,000 killed and 8 million displaced in the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere. Source
  • The cost of accountability: Can Canadian police services afford body cam technology?

    Canada News CBC News
    One of the clearest conclusions following the recent Toronto Police Service pilot project of body-worn cameras was how positive the public felt about them. A police commissioned survey found 95 per cent strongly supported the idea and 85 per cent of the police officers involved agreed, according to Insp. Source
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos collects Nobel Peace Prize

    World News CBC News
    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. On the eve Saturday's ceremony, Santos described the award as a "gift from heaven" and dedicated it to all Colombians, particularly the victims of the country's 52-year-long civil war. Source
  • 5 killed in explosion following train derailment in Bulgaria

    World News CTV News
    SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Five people were killed in northeastern Bulgaria following a gas explosion on a derailed tanker train early Saturday, national radio reported. Officials said at least 23 people were injured, many with severe burns. Source
  • Russia says thousands fleeing Aleppo as Assad nears victory

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Some 50,000 civilians have fled eastern Aleppo over the past two days in a "constant stream," Russia said Saturday, as Syrian government forces close in on the last pocket of opposition control in the northern city. Source
  • 12 stories about Syrian refugees in Canada that warmed our hearts

    Canada News CTV News
    A year ago, on December 10, 163 Syrian refugees arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport around 11:30 p.m. Waiting to greet them at the terminal was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Amidst photographers and television crews, a beaming Trudeau shook hands with the families, handed out stuffed toys to children and even helped them find coats that fit from neatly piled stacks of winter wear. Source
  • 5 killed in Bulgarian explosion following train derailment

    World News CBC News
    Five people were killed in northeastern Bulgaria following a gas explosion on a derailed tanker train early Saturday, national radio reported. Officials said at least 23 people were injured, many with severe burns. Nikolay Nikolov, who heads the country's firefighting department, said at least 20 buildings in the village of Hitrino were destroyed when containers of gas exploded at 5:40 a.m. Source
  • Are democracy's days numbered in Hong Kong?

    World News CBC News
    On the edge of Victoria Harbour, not far from the wharves where British naval ships used to dock in Hong Kong, the push is on to strengthen Chinese control of this former colony. The red flags are flying, the loudspeakers are at full volume. Source
  • Racial profiling studied as N.S. Human Rights Commission turns 50

    Canada News CBC News
    The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission marked its 50th anniversary Friday with a conference looking at racial profiling, among other things. One African-Nova Scotian man who was raised in public housing says anti-black racism in this province manifests itself in many different ways, including in cases of racial and criminal profiling. Source