May 25, 2020 09:45
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a meeting of Workers Party bigwigs discussed "new policies to further strengthen deterrence for a nuclear war and placing strategic weapons on high alert," state media reported Sunday. He also promoted several nuclear officials to senior posts.
The North seems poised for further nuclear provocations following a lull due to the coronavirus epidemic. Experts here believe it may launch a new 3,000-ton submarine capable of firing nuclear missiles and test a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
Kim was shown on state TV in front of a large screen and making a presentation to top military brass.
He promoted some 69 military officers including Ri Pyong-chol and Pak Jong-chol. Both were heavily involved in the nuclear and missile programs. Ri was spotted constantly shadowing Kim during major weapons tests. Pak was the only high-ranking military official to be promoted to vice marshal.
The promotions appear aimed at consolidating Kim's grip on the unruly military, which had metastasized into a state within the state under his father Kim Jong-il's rule.
Former ambassador to Russia Wie Sung-lac said, "North Korea could resort to an armed provocation to increase its bargaining power ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November."
Kim has been making on-site visits to artillery units to stress the need for greater firepower, and the latest promotions appear to reflect those visits.
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