January 11, 2016 11:53
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeated that his country's test of a purported hydrogen bomb last week was an act of self-defense.
The official Rodong Sinmun daily on Sunday quoted Kim as saying during a visit to the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces that the test was "a self-defensive step for reliably defending peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional security from the danger of nuclear war caused by the U.S.-led imperialists."
The daily did not reveal the date of the visit, but it was the first time since the nuclear last Wednesday that Kim appeared before the North Korean public.
Kim also kept his head down for three days after the North's third nuclear test in February 2013.
The nuclear test "is the legitimate right of a sovereign state, which no one can refute," the daily quoted Kim as reciting the regime's standard line.
But while the substance of the remarks is nothing new, pundits wonder what the circumstances say about the standing of the unruly military, which Kim had seemed at pains to rein in.
One researcher at a state-run think tank here that Kim made the remarks while visiting the armed forces ministry "suggests he is willing to boost the military and heighten tensions in view of more international sanctions likely to follow the North's nuclear test."
But it is less clear whether the military has regained the advantage in internal power struggles or whether Kim is now confident that he has it under control.
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