N.Korea Vows to Bolster Nuclear Arsenal

      December 23, 2019 09:59

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has told top brass to bolster the country's nuclear arsenal, state media reported Sunday.

      Kim told 80 top generals in a meeting to bolster the isolated country's "military capability for self-defense," which is the usual code for nuclear weapons.

      The official Rodong Sinmun daily said Kim discussed "important issues for decisive improvement of the overall national defense and core matters for the sustained and accelerated development of military capability for self-defense."

      The meeting was held ahead of a year-end deadline Kim has set the U.S. to make concessions in stalled nuclear talks.

      North Korea leader Kim Jong-un speaks in a meeting with top brass in Pyongyang, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television on Sunday.

      Earlier, the North warned the U.S. can choose what "Christmas gift" it wants, darkly hinting at future provocations.

      The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan meet in China from Monday to Tuesday, and North Korea is expected to seize the occasion to draw attention to itself.

      U.S. experts believe North Kora is about to conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile test. Jeffrey Lewis at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told NBC News that satellite photos show the North erecting a launch pad for an intercontinental missile. "We believe North Korea erects this structure when the facility is involved in producing or modifying ICBM launchers," he said.

      "There is activity at a number of locations indicating that North Korea is laying the groundwork for an expansion of their ICBM program -- more systems, more buildings, more capabilities," he added.

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