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Kim Jong-un Applauds North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme Despite US Sanctions

The leader said Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was "safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia"

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Seoul, October 8, 2017 : North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lauded his country’s nuclear weapons programme as the best way to defend its sovereignty and counter threats from the US.

Speaking to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Jong-un said “nuclear weapons of North Korea are a precious fruition borne by its people’s bloody struggle for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”, Efe reported citing state news agency KCNA.

Kim, also the chairman of the WPK, said Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was “safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia”.

He added his country’s nuclear ambitions have provided the foundations for strong economic development, despite sanctions imposed by the “US imperialists and their vassal forces” to force North Korea into abandoning its weapons programme.

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During the plenary session, which is held at least once a year, the North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong was elected to the party’s politburo, a sign of her rising importance and clout within the North Korean regime.

Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide of the leader, joined the party’s Central Military Commission, while Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was appointed to the central committee’s politburo, according to the state agency. (IANS)

 

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Human Rights Situation in North Korea Needs Reforms

In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind

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United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana attends a press conference following his report on the country to the Human Rights Council, March 12, 2018 in Geneva. A year later, little has changed. (VOA)

Despite more than a year of international engagement and promises of economic reform by North Korea’s leaders, the human rights situation in the isolated country remains dire, a top U.N. rights official said Friday.

Blocked by the government from visiting North Korea, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea Tomas Quintana visited South Korea this week as part of an investigation that will be provided to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.

North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a factory in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, Aug. 7, 2018. (VOA)

Noting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has embarked on an effort to improve living conditions by focusing on economic development, Quintana said his preliminary findings showed those efforts had not translated into improvements in the lives of most people.

“The fact is, that with all the positive developments the world has witnessed in the last year, it is all the more regrettable that the reality for human rights on the ground remains unchanged, and continues to be extremely serious,” he told reporters at a briefing in Seoul.

“In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind,” Quintana added.

North Korea, Humaqn Rights
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

Left out of talks

North Korea denies human rights abuses and says the issue is used by the international community as a political ploy to isolate it.

Human rights were noticeably absent from talks between Kim and the leaders of South Korea and the United States last year, over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

But in December, the United States imposed sanctions on an additional three North Korean officials, including a top aide to Kim, for serious rights abuses and censorship.

North Korea’s foreign ministry warned in a statement after the December sanctions were announced, that the measures could lead to a return to “exchanges of fire” and North Korea’s disarming could be blocked forever.

Kim acknowledgement

While noting he had “no specific information” on whether international sanctions were hurting ordinary North Koreans, Quintana said the sanctions targeted the economy as a whole and “raised questions” about the possible impact on the public.

He cited a reference by Kim in his new year message to the need to improve living standards, saying it was a rare acknowledgement of the economic and social hardships faced by many North Koreans.

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Still, the United Nations has confirmed the continued use of political prison camps housing “thousands” of inmates, Quintana said, quoting one source as saying “the whole country is a prison.”

He said witnesses who recently left North Korea reported facing widespread discrimination, labor exploitation and corruption in daily life.

There is also a “continuing pattern of ill-treatment and torture” of defectors who escaped to China only to be returned to North Korea by Chinese authorities, Quintana said. (VOA)