News / Asia

North Korea Vows to Strengthen Nuclear Arsenal

VOA News
North Korea has vowed to develop and launch more advanced satellites and says the country's nuclear weapons are non-negotiable and will not be traded even for "billions of dollars" in economic assistance.

The official KCNA news agency reported Sunday that a plenary meeting of the North Korean Workers' Party Central Committee, chaired by leader Kim Jong Un, called for building both a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal.

It said the North's nuclear armed forces are not a political bargaining chip, and that they should be "expanded and beefed up...until the denuclearization of the world is realized."

The meeting comes a day before the country's rubber stamp parliament is to meet April 1 amid increased tensions with South Korea and the United States.

In a related development, sources told VOA that a group of U.S. F-22 stealth fighter jets were flown Sunday from Kadena Air Base in Japan to Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, to join the current joint exercises in South Korea. 

  • North Koreans attend a rally in support of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's order to put its missile units on standby in preparation for a possible war against the U.S. and South Korea, Pyongyang, March 29, 2013.
  • University students punch the air as they march through Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea, March 29, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers prepare for a military exercise, Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, March 29, 2013.
  • A U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber flies near Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea, March 28, 2013.
  • South Korean vehicles return from a joint industrial complex at the North Korean city of Kaesong as a U.S. Army soldier watches at the customs, immigration and quarantine office, near the Demilitarized Zone, March 28, 2013.
  • South Korean army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 27, 2013.
  • A man walks past propaganda posters that threaten punishment to the "U.S. imperialists and their allies," Pyongyang, North Korea, March 26, 2013.
  • Soldiers of the Korean People's Army take part in landing and anti-landing drills in the eastern sector of the front and the east coastal area, North Korea, March 25, 2013.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un talks with generals as soldiers of the Korean People's Army take part in landing and anti-landing drills in eastern North Korea, March 25, 2013.

Last week, a pair of stealth B-2 bombers were dispatched from the United States to drop inert munitions on a South Korean island range.

The mission, following those by B-52 bombers earlier in the month, was seen as sending a message to both Seoul and Pyongyang.  It was a dramatic reassurance to the South that it is protected under the United States nuclear umbrella -- and a warning to the North of U.S. forces' capability to strike precisely and quickly from a long distance, should war erupt.

On Saturday, the North said it had entered a "state of war" with South Korea and warned any provocation by Seoul and Washington would escalate into nuclear confrontation.  Pyongyang said all issues between the two Koreas would be handled according to "wartime regulations."

In response, South Korea's defense ministry urged its northern neighbor to stop making threats.  The ministry also said the South's forces will completely punish the North if there is a provocation.

VOA Seoul Bureau Chief Steve Herman said the Korean peninsula "has not seen this level of tension since late 2010, when the North bombed the South’s Yeonpyeong Island,” killing four.  Pyongyang justified the attack by pointing to South Korea’s shelling of disputed waters during a military exercise.

South Korean defense sources said Friday that vehicles and personnel were seen moving toward a North Korean missile launch test site, but that no activity had been detected.

The White House said it takes Pyongyang's latest statement seriously.  National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the North has a long history of bellicose rhetoric, and that Saturday's threat follows a familiar pattern.

Map of GuamMap of Guam
x
Map of Guam
Map of Guam
North Korea also threatened to shut down a joint industrial complex with the South on Saturday.  A North Korean spokesman said the Kaesong industrial complex just north of the line (Demilitarized Zone) separating the two countries will close if Seoul undermines the North's dignity.

North Korea has directed a series of vitriolic comments at the U.S. and South Korea in recent weeks.  Pyongyang has threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire" and has warned of firing rockets at U.S. military bases in Guam, Hawaii and Japan.

Analysts say the North is not yet capable of mounting an operational nuclear warhead on a missile.  But many of its neighbors are worried they may be easier targets for Pyongyang's conventional weapons.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid