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North Korea Leadership Pleased With A Successful Year Expanding Nuclear Capabilities
File image of Kim and his gang doing a tour of the 'frontline' at New Year.
File image of Kim and his gang doing a tour of the 'frontline' at New Year.
by Lee Jong-Heon
Seoul (UPI) Dec 28, 2006
North Korea has described 2006 as a "historic year" to build up its military capabilities, boasting its nuclear test in October.

But the impoverished country had to sacrifice its struggling economy to build atomic bombs, which could lead to another economic crisis, with strengthening international sanctions.

Defying worldwide appeals and threats of tougher sanctions, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear bomb test on Oct. 9, which put the Asian-Pacific region on full alert.

North Korea made clear its nuclear weapons are aimed at coping with "U.S. nuclear threats," saying the test was a "self-defensive" measure against "the U.S. daily increasing nuclear threat and financial sanctions."

The North called the nuclear test as "a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the (North) Korean People's Army and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability."

The country also used the nuclear test to promote the personality cult for its leader Kim Jong Il, praising him as the "sun of the 21st century" who transformed the country into a "Kangsong Taeguk," or a great country with a powerful military and economy.

Signboards with slogans declaring North Korea a nuclear power appeared in the street corners of Pyongyang. They include: "Let us make shine forever our becoming a nuclear power, a historic incident in the 5,000 years of our people's history" and "Long live the celestial Gen. Kim Jong-Il, who has established a world-class nuclear power!"

With nuclear bombs in hand, North Korea returned to the long-stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear drive in December, but it stood much firmer in the negotiations, coming up with a long list of demands, which included lifting of all international sanctions and help in developing a nuclear power industry.

Pyongyang also called for the United States to drop its "hostile" stance and stop targeting the offshore bank accounts of the North's leaders.

In addition, insisting it be treated as a full-fledged nuclear power following the test, the North demanded the six-nation talks be transformed into negotiations over mutual arms reductions that would also deal the reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The six-party talks, held after a 13-month hiatus, ended with no progress, and even failed to set a date for a next round, raising skepticism over the framework of the multilateral talks aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

The stunning nuclear test came three months after North Korea launched a volley of missiles in July, including long-range weapons. Some analysts raise the possibility that North Korea conduct a second nuclear test or launch a ballistic missile which could be equipped with a nuclear warhead and may be capable of reaching the continental United States.

"The North's nuclear test that followed missile launches was a carefully calculated move to raise the stakes in the standoff with the United States," said Lee Jung-chul, a North Korea specialist at Seoul's Soongsil University.

"After the nuclear test, the North has a sense of national pride as a nuclear-armed country," said Paik Hak-soon, a North Korea expert at South Korea's private Sejong Institute.

In its latest edition, Rodong Sinmun, organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party, described 2006 as "historic year" in which its military power was sharply increased, saying the nuclear test was one of the greatest achievements the country made this year.

"Our country has been turned into an eternal invincible fortress which any formidable enemy dare not invade as we possess powerful war deterrent able to reliably ensure regional peace and security," the state newspaper said.

Rodong also defined 2006 as a year of a great leap forward in which the cause of building a "Kangsong Taeguk" of Juche (self-reliance) has been put on a higher stage of development and broad vistas opened up for the country and the nation.

But the North is facing another "painful march under trial" as the international community is implementing wide-raging sanctions under Resolution 1718 adopted by the U.N. Security Council in October.

The North launched the first "painful march" campaign after the abrupt death in 1994 of the country's national founder Kim Il Sung and subsequent economic crisis and famine which caused a sharp rise in refugees leaving the country.

Many analysts warn the North could face its worst winter since the mass famines of the mid-1990s which killed hundreds of thousands in the mid-1990s as South Korea and other donators have suspended food and economic aid to the North following its nuclear test.

United Nations aid agencies warn North Korea is facing a major food crisis as many countries move to cut assistance after the nuclear test. Still worse, severe flooding during the summer decimated the North's food production.

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South Korea Says US Must Be More Flexible On North Korea
Seoul (AFP) Dec 28, 2006
South Korea's point man on North Korea urged the United States Thursday to be more flexible in talks on scrapping North Korea's nuclear programmes. Newly appointed Unification Minister Lee Jae-Joung was speaking less than a week after the six-party talks ended in apparent deadlock. "The US government should be more flexible in finding a solution to this issue. North Korea should also take a sincere and responsible attitude in dialogue, without sticking to its own position," Lee told reporters.

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