North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vows strong action

AP, SEOUL

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 - Page 1

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened top security and foreign affairs officials and ordered them to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures,” state media said yesterday, fueling speculation that he plans to push forward with a threat to detonate a nuclear device in defiance of the UN.

The meeting of top officials led by Kim underscores Pyongyang’s defiant stance in protest of UN Security Council punishment for a rocket launch last month. The dispatch in the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not say when the meeting took place.

Last week, the Security Council condemned North Korea’s Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket as a violation of a ban against nuclear and missile activity.

The council, including North Korea ally China, punished Pyongyang with more sanctions and ordered the regime to refrain from a nuclear test — or face “significant action.”

North Korea responded by rejecting the resolution and maintaining its right to launch a satellite into orbit as part of a peaceful civilian space program.

It warned that it would keep developing rockets and testing nuclear devices to counter what it sees as US hostility.

Kim’s order for firm action and a recent series of strong statements indicate he intends to conduct a nuclear test in the near future to show “he is a young yet powerful leader both domestically and internationally,” said Chin Hee-gwan, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Inje University.

Yesterday’s KCNA dispatch said the UN punishment indicates US hostility toward North Korea has reached its highest point.