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North Korea may resume nuclear, missile testing against US policy

By News Desk, with agency report

The North Korea Government has disclosed that plans have been perfected to bolster its defences against the United States and considering resuming all ‘temporally-suspended activities’, an apparent reference to a self-imposed moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

As gathered, the considered resumption of suspended activities may not be unconnected to a U.S. push for fresh sanctions which was followed by heated reaction from Pyongyang, raising the spectre of a return to the period of so-called “fire and fury” threats of 2017.

Toward achieving the planned resumption, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, convened a meeting of the powerful politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party yesterday to discuss what he described as “important policy issues,” including countermeasures over “hostile” U.S. policy.

The politburo ordered a reconsideration of trust-building measures and “promptly examining the issue of restarting all temporally-suspended activities,” while calling for “immediately bolstering more powerful physical means,” state news agency KCNA said on Thursday.

As stated, the decision appears to be a step beyond Kim’s previous remarks at the end of 2019 that he would no longer be bound by the moratorium on testing nuclear warheads and long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), after the United States did not respond to calls for concessions to reopen negotiations.

Washington’s hostility and threats had “reached a danger line,” the report said, citing joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, the deployment of cutting-edge U.S. strategic weapons in the region, and the implementation of independent and U.N. sanctions.

“We should make more thorough preparation for a long-term confrontation with the U.S. imperialists,” the politburo concluded.

North Korea’s warning came hours before the United Nations Security Council was due to convene a closed-door meeting on Thursday to discuss the recent missile tests, at the request of the United States and several other countries.

President Joe Biden made no mention of North Korea during a nearly two-hour news conference on Wednesday held to mark his first year in office. When asked how the United States would respond if North Korea resumed ICBM and nuclear testing, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined “to get into hypotheticals” but said its goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“We remain prepared to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy without preconditions to make tangible progress,” the spokesperson said, adding that Washington would continue its efforts in coordination with the international community to prevent advances in North Korea’s weapons programmes.

However, the South Korea’s defence ministry said that it was monitoring the North’s winter drills while maintaining readiness posture, calling the recent missile tests “serious threats.”

The Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean ties warned of further escalation, saying the peninsula should not go back to the confrontational past, and dialogue and diplomacy are the only way forward.

“We should brace for more sabre-rattling designed to create a warlike atmosphere — and possibly more provocation testing,” said Jean Lee, a fellow at the Washington-based Wilson Center, adding that Kim will use every opportunity to justify further weapons testing.

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