North Korean state media praised the country's leader yesterday for standing up to its enemies a day after the army's chief of staff vowed to take action against US sanctions after nuclear disarmament talks ended in deadlock.
In a lengthy editorial, Rodong Sinmun newspaper lauded North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for his "iron-like pluck and grit" and for trying to build a powerful military that no enemy would dare confront, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
The newspaper also said the North displayed its determination to "mercilessly punish aggressors trying to pick a fight with us" -- a possible reference to its Oct. 9 nuclear test that sent jitters across the globe.
On Saturday, army chief of staff Kim Yong-chun accused the US of demanding that North Korea unilaterally end its nuclear program while refusing to lift financial restrictions the US imposed on the communist government for its alleged money laundering and counterfeiting of US$100 bills.
The nuclear talks -- held in Beijing this week after a 13-month break due to a North Korean boycott over the US sanctions -- ended on Friday without an agreement to move ahead on the North's nuclear disarmament. Last year, the North pledged to disarm in exchange for security guarantees and aid.
Negotiators said the North Koreans refused to talk about their nuclear weapons program until the US lifts its financial restrictions.
"Sanctions and pressure will never work on [North Korea]. If the hostile forces continue escalating sanctions and pressure against [the North], it will resolutely react to them with stronger countermeasures," Kim said in a speech to thousands of top government and military officials in Pyongyang.
Kim did not elaborate on what he meant by stronger countermeasures in the speech, broadcast on North Korean Central TV.
The meeting was held on the eve of the 15th anniversary of Kim Jong-il's assumption of the command of the country's 1.1 million-strong military, the world's fifth largest.
North Korean soldiers also held a massive outdoor party on Saturday night to celebrate the anniversary, according to KCNA.
North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan said on Friday that his country -- which conducted its first nuclear weapons test in October -- would bolster its atomic arsenal in response to US pressure.
"The US is taking a tactic of both dialogue and pressure, and carrots and sticks," he told reporters in Beijing.
"We are responding with dialogue and a shield, and by a shield we are saying we will further improve our deterrent," he said.
The two sides held separate talks on those sanctions in Beijing on the sidelines of the six-nation arms talks but failed to bridge their differences.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of