Kim Jong Un praises nuclear program, promotes sister
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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Koreaâs leader Kim Jong Un said his nuclear weapons were a âpowerful deterrentâ that guaranteed its sovereignty, state media reported on Sunday, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said âonly one thing will workâ in d ealing with the isolated country.
Trump did not make clear to what he was referring, but his comments seemed to be a further suggestion that military action was on his mind.
In a speech to a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workersâ Party on Saturday, a day before Trumpâs most recent comments, state media said Kim had addressed the âcomplicated international situationâ.
North Koreaâs nuclear weapons are a âpowerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,â Kim said, referring to the âprotracted nuclear threats of the U.S. imperialists.â
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
North Korea is preparing to test-launch such a missile, a Russian lawmaker who had just returned f rom a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.
Donald Trump has previously said the United States would âtotally destroyâ North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.
The situation proved that North Koreaâs policy of âbyungjinâ, meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy was âabsolutely rightâ, Kim Jong Un said in the speech.
âThe national economy has grown on their strength this year, despite the escalating sanctions,â said Kim, referring to U.N. Security Council resolutions put in place to curb Pyongyangâs nuclear and missile program.
The meeting also handled some personnel changes inside North Koreaâs secretive and opaque ruling center of power, state media said.
Kim Jong Unâs sister, Kim Yo Jong, was made an alternate member of the politburo - the top decision-making body over which Kim Jong Un presides.
Alongside Kim Jong Un himself, the promotion makes Kim Yo Jong the only other millennial member of the influential body.
Her new position indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Unâs aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.
âIt shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim familyâs power,â said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins Universityâs 38 North website.
In January, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo Jong along with other North Korean officials over âsevere human rights abusesâ.
Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, two of the three men behind Kimâs banned rocket program, were also promoted.
State media announced that several other high ranking cadres were promoted to the Central Committee in what the South Korean unification ministry said could be an attempt by North Korea to navigate a way through its increasing isolation.
âThe large-scale personnel reshuffle reflects that Kim Jong Un is taking the current situation seriously, and that heâs looking for a breakthrough by promoting a new generation of politicians,â the ministry said in a statement.
North Koreaâs foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who named Donald Trump âPresident Evilâ in a bombastic speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month, was promoted to full vote-carrying member of the politburo.
âRi can now be safely identified as one of North Koreaâs top policy makers,â said Madden.
âEven if he h as informal or off the record meetings, Riâs interlocutors can be assured that whatever proposals they proffer will be taken directly to the top,â he said.
Additional reporting by Yuna Park in SEOUL; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and John StonestreetOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.0 : 0