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Kim Jong Un’s influential sister says North Korea determined to develop nuclear arsenal following US-South Korea summit

ABC News 1 May 23

The powerful sister of North Korea’s leader says her country will stage more provocative displays of its military might in response to a new US-South Korean agreement to intensify nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

Key points:

  • Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un, is a top foreign policy official for the regime
  • She says the new US-South Korea agreement only strengthens the North’s resolve to develop nuclear arsenal 
  • North Korea’s nuclear deterrence doctrine emphasise pre-emptive strike capabilities

According to Kim Yo Jong, the new agreement between Washington and Seoul to counter North Korea’s nuclear threat shows their “extreme” hostility toward Pyongyang………………………………………………………………………..

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is widely expected to up the ante in coming weeks or months as he continues to accelerate a campaign aimed at cementing the North’s status as a nuclear power and eventually negotiating US economic and security concessions from a position of strength.


May 3, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Brink of nuclear war’: North Korea warning on military drills

Aljazeera, 6 Apr 23,

Pyongyang’s state media publishes warning as United States and South Korea continue joint military exercises.

North Korea has accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions “to the brink of nuclear war” through their joint military drills and promised to respond with “offensive action,” according to state media KCNA.

A commentary published by KCNA on Thursday criticised the continuing exercises as “a trigger for driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the point of explosion.”

…………………… US and South Korean forces have been conducting a series of annual springtime exercises since March, including air and sea drills involving a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier as well as B-1B and B-52 bombers, and their first large-scale amphibious landing drills in five years. On Wednesday, B52s were deployed for their first use on the peninsula in a month.

……………………. North Korea views such exercises as a rehearsal for invasion.

Pyongyang carried out a record number of weapons tests last year and has been ramping up its military activity in recent weeks. It has unveiled new, smaller nuclear warheads, fired its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile – the Hwasong 17 – and tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone that is under development. It also fired cruise missiles from a submarine……………………………………

April 10, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea May Be Close to Completing New Nuclear Reactor: 38 North

Satellite images indicate North Korea may be close to completing a new
reactor in its major nuclear complex in Yongbyon, according to 38 North, a
Washington-based website that tracks events in the country. Construction
crews are working on a support building at the site’s Experimental Light
Water Reactor (ELWR) development and water discharges have been spotted
near the ELWR’s pump house that could be associated with testing of the
reactor’s cooling system, the website said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
visited a facility producing nuclear bombs earlier this week and reiterated
his order to massively expand the North’s nuclear arsenal. Kim said North
Korea is ready to use nuclear weapons “anytime and anywhere,” the
official Korean Central News Agency reported. His visit to the facility
came as the nation carried out series of weapon tests including ballistic
missiles designed to deliver a nuclear warhead. The Yongbyon site’s
existing 5 MWe reactor has been running since July 2021 and commercial
satellite images from March show there’s new construction for the reactor’s
spent fuel storage building, according to 38 North.

Bloomberg 2nd April 2023

April 3, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, technology | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Kim led drills ‘simulating nuclear counterattack’: KCNA

Latest show of force from Pyongyang comes as it bristles at military drills by South Korea and the US.

Aljazeera, 20 Mar 23

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised two days of drills “simulating a nuclear counterattack” — including the firing of a ballistic missile carrying a mock nuclear warhead — according to state news agency KCNA, as South Korea and the United States continued their own military exercises.

Kim expressed “satisfaction” over the weekend launches, which were held to “let relevant units get familiar with the procedures and processes for implementing their tactical nuclear attack missions”, KCNA reported on Monday………………………….

The drills were the fourth show of force from Pyongyang in a week and came as South Korea and the US stage their own military manoeuvres — known as Freedom Shield — which North Korea sees as a rehearsal for an invasion and a hostile act.

On Sunday, the two allied countries staged air and sea drills involving US B-1B strategic bombers, and their navies and marine corps are set to start the large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises on Monday. The drills, the biggest in five years, will continue for two weeks until April 3.

Last month, the US and South Korea held tabletop exercises simulating North Korea’s nuclear attack amid South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s push for more confidence in US extended deterrence — its military capability, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks on its allies.

This is turning the Korean peninsula into “a flashpoint with higher potential for a nuclear war”, Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies told the AFP news agency.

“As the intensity of the South Korea-US exercises increases, the possibility of unforeseen situations increases, and as a result, mutual physical clashes may occur,” he said.

South Korea and Japan have also moved to boost security cooperation amid the North Korean weapon tests, putting aside decades of historical grievances.

North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles under successive UN sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

Last week, Pyongyang fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17, its second such test this year.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Monday over the ICBM launch at the request of the US and Japan, according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency.

March 20, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Seoul offers radiation tests to N Korea defectors as group flags nuclear risks

By Kelly Ng and Jean Mackenzie, BBC News, 24 Feb 23

South Korea will offer radiation testing to 881 North Korean defectors after concerns were raised about their exposure to the North’s nuclear tests.

It comes after a research report warned that residents around Punggye-ri, the main nuclear testing site, could be exposed to radioactive leaks in water.

The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) estimates that up to half a million residents are at risk.

It also potentially affects people in China, South Korea and Japan.

The group – which was established in Seoul in 2014 by activists and researchers from South Korea, North Korea, US, UK and Canada – analysed publicly available data and open-source intelligence for its latest report.

North Korea last tested a nuclear bomb in 2017 – the most powerful of six tests conducted at Punggye-ri.

It said the tests were conducted safely, but scientists have long raised fears that radioactive material might have escaped into the surrounding soil and groundwater.

North Korean defectors, who once lived near the site, have previously reported seeing strange illnesses in their communities, but scientists have not been able to establish a link.

Authorities in Seoul are now inviting all North Koreans, who escaped from nearby towns near the site, to be tested for signs of radiation.

Nuclear experts the BBC spoke to largely agree with the possibility of nuclear contamination laid out in TJWG’s report but say its extent will be hard to determine.

Nuclear radiation can damage living cells partially or completely, sometimes resulting in cancer. As with most toxins, the risks associated with radioactive materials depend on the amount of exposure.

The Ministry of Unification, an executive department in South Korea promoting Korean reunification, stopped testing defectors for radiation exposure in 2019.

Nine of the 40 defectors tested in 2017 and 2018 showed “worrying levels” of genetic abnormalities, the group said in its report. While the TJWG did not directly attribute these to radiation exposure, it noted higher radiation doses for those who showed more abnormalities.

In particular, the TJWG flagged the leakage of radioactive materials into groundwater as a particular concern, given people’s growing tendency to consume groundwater.

North Korea’s 2008 census data shows that a sixth of households in the northernmost province of North Hamgyong, where Punggye-ri is located, use groundwater as drinking and agricultural water.

This proportion is likely to have gone up due to a chronic shortage of electricity across the country. Electricity is supplied only on a part-time basis even in the capital Pyongyang, which is always prioritised in resource allocation…………………………………………………………..

The group has urged South Korean and Chinese authorities to disclose results of past tests, for radiation exposure. It is also calling for an international inquiry into the radiation risks for communities around Punggye-ri.

February 24, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, radiation | Leave a comment

Groundwater carries radiation risk for North Korean cities near nuke test site – rights group 

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of North Koreans and people in South Korea, Japan and China could be exposed to radioactive materials spread through groundwater from an underground nuclear test site, a Seoul-based human rights group said in a report on Tuesday.

North Korea secretly conducted six tests of nuclear weapons at the Punggye-ri site in the mountainous North Hamgyong Province between 2006 and 2017, according to the U.S. and South Korean governments.

The study by the Transitional Justice Working Group said radioactive materials could have spread across eight cities and counties near the site, where more than 1 million North Koreans live, and where groundwater is used in everyday lives including drinking.

The group, formed in 2014, worked with nuclear and medical experts and defectors and used open source intelligence and publicly available government and U.N. reports for the study, which was backed by the National Endowment for Democracy, a non-profit corporation funded by the U.S. Congress.

“This report is significant in showing that North Korea’s nuclear tests could threaten the right to life and health of not only the North Korean people, but also of those in South Korea and other neighbouring countries,” said Hubert Young-hwan Lee, the group’s chief and a co-author.

Telephone calls by Reuters to North Korea’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York went unanswered.

In 2015, South Korea’s food safety agency detected nine times the standard level of radioactive caesium isotopes in imported hedgehog mushrooms that had been sold as Chinese produce though their actual origin was North Korea.

China and Japan have ramped up radiation monitoring and expressed concerns over potential exposure following the North’s previous nuclear tests but did not openly provide information on contaminated food.

Many outside experts have raised concerns over potential health risks from contaminated water, but North Korea rejected such concerns, saying there were no leaks of harmful materials following past nuclear tests, without providing evidence.

When North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the destruction of some tunnels at the nuclear test site in 2018, it confiscated their radiation detectors.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, stopped testing defectors for radiation exposure since 2018 amid a thaw in cross-border ties.

But, out of 40 defectors from the regions near Punggye-ri who were tested for radiation in 2017 and 2018, at least nine showed abnormalities. The ministry said, however, that it could not establish a direct link with the nuclear site.

More than 880 North Koreans have escaped from those regions since 2006, the report said.

The rights group urged a resumption of testing and an international enquiry into the radiation risks for communities around Punggye-ri.

The Unification Ministry said it will consider restarting testing if any defectors report health problems and request support regarding radiation exposure.

Seoul and Washington have said Pyongyang could be preparing for a seventh nuclear test.

February 23, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, water | Leave a comment

N Korea confirms ICBM test, touts nuclear counterattack ability

Pyongyang says its latest ICBM test was meant to bolster its ‘fatal nuclear counterattack’ capabilities.

North Korea has said it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as a warning to the United States and South Korea, claiming the drill successfully demonstrated its capacity to launch a “fatal nuclear counterattack”.

The North Korean statement on Sunday came a day after it launched the Hwasong-15 into the sea off Japan’s west coast after warning of a strong response to upcoming military drills by the US and South Korea……………………………………………………………………….

Analysts say North Korea is likely to conduct more weapons tests, including a possible new solid-fuel missile which could help Pyongyang deploy its missiles faster in the event of a war.

North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes are banned under UN Security Council resolutions, but Pyongyang says its weapons development is necessary to counter “hostile policies” by Washington and its allies.

February 20, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea shows off largest-ever number of nuclear missiles at anniversary parade

ABC News 9 Feb 23,

Nuclear-armed North Korea showcased its missile production muscle during a night-time parade, state media reported on Thursday, displaying more intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) than ever before and hinting at a new solid-fuel weapon.

Key points:

  • As many as 11 Hwasong-17s, North Korea’s largest ICBM, were shown during the parade
  • Analysts say that 11 ICBMs would be enough to overwhelm US missile defences
  • A prototype of a new solid-fuel ICBM also appeared to be displayed

The country has forged ahead with its ballistic missile program, test-launching dozens of advanced missiles last year despite United Nations Security Council resolutions and sanctions.

“This time, Kim Jong Un let North Korea’s expanding tactical and long-range missile forces speak for themselves,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

…………………………………………. more

February 11, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea to have “exponential increase” in its nuclear arsenal

Kim Jong-un has vowed to ramp up the production of nuclear warheads and
build a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), while
singling out South Korea as his country’s “undoubted enemy”, North
Korean state media reported on Sunday. In a sign of deepening animosity
towards the US, South Korea and Japan, Kim called for an “exponential
increase” in the regime’s nuclear arsenal during an address at a plenary
meeting of the ruling Workers’ party that ended on Saturday.

Guardian 1st Jan 2023

January 3, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea says it will boost nuclear warhead production ‘exponentially’, as another missile fired

ABC News 1 Jan 2023, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to increase the production of nuclear warheads “exponentially” and build a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reports, signalling deepening animosities with the United States, South Korea and others.

Key points:

  • Kim Jong Un said his country would be “doubling down” on building military power
  • He said this was in response to the “dangerous military moves” of the US and “other hostile forces”
  • His statement came hours after North Korea fired another ballistic missile on Sunday

Mr Kim’s statement at a key ruling party meeting was released hours after North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters, entering 2023 with another weapons test following a record number of missile firings last year…………………………………………………………….. more

January 1, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un wants North Korea to be a nuclear superpower – the real risk is a regional arms race

The Conversation, Alexander Gillespie, December 2, 2022

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

The question now is how best to bring the pariah nation into the orbit of arms control negotiations and international dialogue. However remote the chances of that, the alternative risks a regional nuclear arms race………………………………………….

Three decades of non-compliance with international obligations by North Korea have not engendered trust or a willingness by surrounding countries to submit to a nuclear neighbour. More likely is a regional nuclear arms race, as happened when India got the bomb and Pakistan had to keep up, or when Israel triggered Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

South KoreaJapan and possibly even Taiwan are likely to follow suit, either asking to host US ballistic missiles or pursuing independent nuclear strategies – especially if they feel the US won’t defend them after the next presidential election.

None of this makes the world safer.

December 2, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un Emphasizes Nuclear Development as North Korea’s ‘Ultimate Goal’

Kim continues to double down on the importance of the nuclear program for his country.

 The Diplomat, Mitch Shin, November 28, 2022, Following the successful test of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 18, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praised the work of those who contributed to the development of the missile, Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), one of the North’s main state-controlled media, reported on Sunday.

During a photo session with the contributors, Kim reiterated the importance of developing nuclear weapons as a means to protect North Korea…………….

As the Korean War stalled with a truce in 1953, the two Koreas are technically still at war………………………….

Considering Kim’s latest order to his scientists and technicians and his speech in September, he seems to have concluded that nuclear development is the only way to survive. With nuclear development described by Kim as the “ultimate goal,” it indicates that he will never preemptively denuclearize his country………………. more

November 28, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

N Korea warns of ‘all-out’ nuclear response to US ‘aggression’

North Korea has promised to ‘resolutely react’ to US threat of nuclear weapons use with its own nuclear capabilities.

19 Nov 2022

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to use nuclear weapons to counter threats from the United States hours after test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB), the latest escalation as the UN Security Council prepares to convene an emergency session on Pyongyang’s actions.

The United Nations Security Council, at the behest of Japan, South Korea and the US will gather on Monday to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch…………………………………….. more

November 20, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea fired intercontinental ballistic missile – Seoul 4 Nov 22, The launch failed during the second-stage separation, a South Korean military official told Yonhap

North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as part of a large-scale show of force against the ongoing war games between the US and South Korea, according to Seoul’s armed forces.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military detected “what is presumed to be a long-range ballistic missile launch from the Sunan area in Pyongyang” early on Thursday morning, noting that two additional short-range missiles followed about one hour later. 

After analyzing details of the launch, the military added that the weapon traveled a distance of around 760km (472 miles) and reached a top speed of Mach 15. However, a defense source later told Yonhap that “the missile seems to have failed in normal flight” after its second-stage separation.

In a statement later on Thursday, the Joint Chiefs said “Our military has beefed up surveillance and vigilance” and would maintain a “readiness posture in close cooperation with the US.”

Thursday’s launch marks the first time Pyongyang has fired an ICBM since May, though it comes amid a record number of missile tests overall this year. The DPRK has also unleashed hundreds of rockets, missiles, and artillery shells into the sea in recent days as a demonstration to Washington and Seoul, which are in the middle of some of their largest air drills ever

With tensions soaring on the peninsula, the North has repeatedly condemned the exercises as a rehearsal for a full-scale invasion, even suggesting earlier this week that Washington could be preparing a nuclear attack. The US and South Korea, meanwhile, have denounced each missile launch by Pyongyang as a dangerous provocation and have vowed to continue strengthening military ties.

November 3, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US, Japan, S Korea vow response if N Korea tests nuclear bomb

US says full military capabilities will be used, including nuclear, to protect its allies South Korea and Japan. 26 Oct 22,

An “unparalleled” scale of response would be warranted if North Korea conducts a seventh test of a nuclear weapon, the United States, Japan and South Korea have warned.

The warning was issued on Wednesday amid concerns by the US and its regional allies that North Korea could be poised to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017.

“We agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test,” South Korean first vice foreign minister Cho Hyun-dong told a news conference in Tokyo.

Cho made his comments alongside Japan’s vice foreign minister Takeo Mori and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

North Korea has been carrying out weapons tests at an unprecedented pace this year, firing more than two dozen short and medium-range ballistic missiles in recent weeks, including a missile that over-flew Japan.

We urge (North Korea) to refrain from further provocations,” Sherman said, calling the North’s actions “reckless” and deeply destabilising for the region.

Sherman also said that the US will use its full military capabilities, “including nuclear, conventional and missile defence”, to protect its allies Japan and South Korea.

North Korea needs to understand that the US commitment to the security of South Korea and Japan is “iron clad”, she said.

“And we will use the full range of US defence capabilities to defend our allies, including nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities,” she said.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Sherman also reiterated that the US was continuing to “seek serious and sustained dialogue with the DPRK” (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) – the official name for North Korea.

Cho, during his talks with Sherman, raised concern that a new North Korean nuclear weapons policy adopted in September increases the possibility of its arbitrary use of nuclear weapons.

“This is creating serious tension on the Korean peninsula,” Cho said.

In September, the USS Ronald Reagan and accompanying ships conducted joint military exercises with South Korean forces in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test in what was their first joint military training involving a US aircraft carrier since 2017.

Angered by South Korea’s military activities, Pyongyang last week fired hundreds of artillery shells off its coasts in what it called a grave warning to its neighbour to the south.

Sherman met earlier on Tuesday with Japan’s Mori and reaffirmed the further strengthening of the Japan-US alliance and other shared goals, including the complete denuclearisation of North Korea and their joint response to China’s increasingly assertive actions in the region.

Japanese defence minister Yasukazu Hamada recently said that North Korea is believed to have achieved a miniaturisation of nuclear warheads while significantly advancing its missile capabilities by diversifying its launch technologies, making interceptions more difficult.

Japan has joined South Korea in also warning of a possible nuclear test by North Korea in the near future.

October 26, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment