Nuclear weapons solely intended for US, claims North Korea

Ri Jong-hyok says missile project is ‘sword of justice’ aimed at fighting the United States

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a missile: The EU, China and Japan, and many regional powers in Asia, have called on him to abandon his nuclear ambitions. Photograph: KCNA via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a missile: The EU, China and Japan, and many regional powers in Asia, have called on him to abandon his nuclear ambitions. Photograph: KCNA via Reuters

 

North Korea’s nuclear weapons are aimed solely at the US, a senior member of the North’s government said, and other countries should not feel threatened by Kim Jong-un’s atomic weapons programme.

Ri Jong-hyok, a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly and director of the National Reunification Institute, said North Korea’s nuclear project was a “sword of justice” aimed at fighting the US.

“Any country in the world need not worry about our threats as long as they do not join invasion and provocations toward us,” Mr Ri told the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

“Today’s reality shows that our obtaining of nuclear weapons shatters the US ambition to secure its supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region and safeguards peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and its region,” he said. He was speaking at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly in Turkey.

The European Union, China and Japan, as well as many regional powers in Asia, have called on Mr Kim to abandon his nuclear ambitions.

US aggression

North Korea has repeatedly said that its nuclear weapons programme is aimed at protecting itself against aggression from the US, and it says that regular joint military exercises with South Korea are rehearsals for an invasion of the North.

Meanwhile, China said it would close the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge across the Yalu River in Dandong for “repairs”, amid speculation that Beijing is angry that Mr Kim snubbed a special envoy from China’s leader Xi Jinping.

China’s foreign ministry said it would be closed to allow repair work by the North Koreans.

The bridge is 940m long and spans the Yalu river, and transports some 70 per cent of goods traded between North Korea and China on rail lines and roadway.

The two communist nations were allies in the Korean War (1950-1953), and the new transport bridge stands just metres away from another bridge bombed by the Americans during the war. North Korea is clearly visible from the bridge.

Harm to stability

Despite their historical links, China has become increasingly frustrated with North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and missile launches, believing they risk harming stability in the region.

They also fear an influx of refugees across the border, should there be a regime change in North Korea, and the prospect of a US-led puppet government on its borders does not appeal.

China has backed sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, though it has baulked at US requests to quell oil exports to the North.

Following an international outcry and a war of words with US leader Donald Trump, there have been no further long-range missile launches or nuclear tests in over two months.

China sent a special envoy, Song Tao, on a four-day trip to North Korea earlier this month to discuss ongoing tensions, but Mr Kim did not meet the envoy, even though Mr Song is the most senior Chinese official to visit the North.

Last week, Air China suspended flights to Pyongyang.