North Korea’s nuclear weapons are “the nation’s life” and will not be traded even for “billions of dollars”, the country’s ruling Workers’ Party said today.
President Kim Jong-un presided over the plenary meeting of the party’s central committee in Pyongyang, which set a “new strategic line”, calling for policies to build both a stronger economy – and a more potent nuclear arsenal.
The meeting follows a series of near-daily threats from Pyongyang in recent weeks, including a vow to launch nuclear strikes on the US and a warning on Saturday that the Korean Peninsula was in a “state of war”.
Pyongyang is angry about annual US-South Korean military drills and a new round of UN sanctions that followed its latest nuclear test on 12 February, the country’s third. Analysts see a full-scale North Korean attack as unlikely and say the threats are efforts to provoke softer policies toward Pyongyang from a new government in Seoul, to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get the North more aid, and to solidify the young North Korean leader’s image and military credentials at home.
The committee decreed that North Korea’s “nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life, which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on Earth”.
Pyongyang has called the US nuclear arsenal a threat to its existence and justifies its own nuclear pursuit in large part on that perceived US threat.
While analysts call North Korea’s threats largely brinkmanship, there is some fear that a localised skirmish might escalate. Seoul has vowed to respond harshly should the North provoke its military. Naval skirmishes in disputed Yellow Sea waters off the Korean coast have led to bloody battles several times over the years.
The central committee, the party’s top decision-making body. guides the party’s major projects and its plenary meeting is usually convened once a year. South Korean media said the last plenary session was held in 2010 and that this was the first time Kim Jong-un had presided over the meeting.