Kim praises nuclear programme, promotes sister to centre of power

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un said his nuclear weapons were a “powerful deterrent” that guaranteed its sovereignty, state media reported on Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump said “only one thing will work” in dealing with the isolated country.
In a speech to a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday, a day before Trump’s most recent comments, state media said Kim had addressed the “complicated international situation”.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,” Kim said, referring to the “protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists.”
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
North Korea is preparing to test-launch such a missile, a Russian lawmaker who had just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.
Donald Trump has previously said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.
The situation proved that North Korea’s policy of “byungjin”, meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy was “absolutely right”, Kim Jong-Un said in the speech.
“The national economy has grown on their strength this year, despite the escalating sanctions,” said Kim, referring to UN Security Council resolutions put in place to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.
The meeting also handled some personnel changes inside North Korea’s secretive and opaque ruling centre of power, state media said.
Kim Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong, was made an alternate member of the politburo — the top decision-making body over which Kim Jong Un presides.

Kim Yo-Jong at the opening ceremony of a residential complex in Ryomyong street in Pyongyang on April 13, 2017. — Reuters

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-Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong-Hui, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong-Il was alive.
“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website.
In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo-Jong along with other North Korean officials over “severe human rights abuses”. — Reuters