May 21, 2015 09:50
North Korea on Wednesday abruptly canceled a planned visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Ban arrived in South Korea Monday for a five-day visit. "No explanation was given for this last-minute change," he said Wednesday. Ban would have been the first UN chief to visit the complex.
Pyongyang refused to give a reason for the cancellation. One intelligence official said, "Internal instability in North Korea following the execution of Army chief Hyon Yong-chol seems to have played a role."
North Korea's diplomatic isolation looks likely to worsen, with the cancellation coming hard on the heels of leader Kim Jong-un's decision to stay away from Victory Day celebrations in Moscow.
North Korea instead issued a statement of familiar diversionary bluster, claiming its nuclear arsenal was already highly developed. "It has been a long time since we began miniaturizing and diversifying our means of nuclear strike," the National Defense Commission said in a statement quoted by the official [North] Korean Central News Agency.
"We have also reached the stage where the highest accuracy is guaranteed, not only for short- and medium-range missiles but long-range missiles as well."
The statement added the North will not tolerate international condemnation over its recent test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. This suggests that the North canceled Ban's trip because he accused Pyongyang of violating UN Security Council resolutions.
Ban was scheduled to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex on Thursday afternoon for about an hour and a half to tour South Korean factories there. Oh Joon, South Korea's ambassador to the UN, said earlier that Ban was "very interested" in playing a role in easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
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