N. Korea 'set to expand nuclear programme'

Analysts' take on leader Kim's visit to missile parts factory; wider UN sanctions delayed

GENEVA • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited a machinery factory that is believed to be a key plant that makes parts related to missile development, the country's state media reported.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNC) yesterday reported Mr Kim's visit to Thaesong Machine Factory but did not say when it took place.

It quoted him as saying the factory needed to modernise its production for the development of North Korea's machine-building industry.

"(The leader's visit) is aimed to lay a new springboard for the development of the country's machine-building industry through modernisation of the factory," it said.

The inspection of the factory, a main manufacturing outpost used in missile development, shows that the North is determined to keep expanding its nuclear and missile programmes, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted analysts as saying.

Recent provocations from North Korea - a nuclear test and a rocket launch - have resulted in global condemnation and a move by the United Nations Security Council to impose expanded sanctions on the isolated country.

SHOCK VALUE

As a way out and in order to earn their living, they are compelled to continue to fabricate and sell groundless testimonies by trying to make them sound as shocking as possible.

MR RI SU YONG, North Korea's Foreign Minister, on defectors who he said were recruited by agents working for the United States, Japan and South Korea.

But the 15-member council delayed a vote on adopting the resolution, drafted by the United States and main North Korean ally China, to late last night, after Russia said it needed more time to review the text, according to diplomats quoted by Reuters.

The expanded sanctions will require all cargoes going to and from North Korea to be inspected, and North Koreans operating in Syria, Iran and Vietnam to be blacklisted.

North Korea's Foreign Minister on Tuesday defiantly said the country will "never ever" be bound by such resolutions, and would boycott UN Human Rights Council sessions that were for the purpose of "singing out the human rights situation of (North Korea) for mere political attack".

He also accused it of "politicisation, selectivity and double standards", citing gun violence in the US and Europe's migrant crisis, according to Reuters.

Mr Ri Su Yong also said in a speech to the council that the United States, Japan and South Korea had sent agents into his country to recruit "so-called North Korean defectors", Reuters reported.

"As a way out and in order to earn their living, they are compelled to continue to fabricate and sell groundless testimonies by trying to make them sound as shocking as possible," Mr Ri added.

Denying the North's charges, South Korea said "questioning the credibility of the defectors' testimony is nothing but a denial of truth".

Japan urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps to improve human rights in the country, Reuters reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'N. Korea 'set to expand nuclear programme''. Print Edition | Subscribe