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North Korea says it continues to develop its nuclear weapons capability

North Korea says it continues to develop its nuclear weapons capability
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By Catherine Hardy with Reuters
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Seoul dismisses the suggestion of military talks from Pyongang as "meaningless" amid speculation about a fifth nuclear test.

  • First Worker’s Party congress for 36 years
  • Pyongyang plans to strengthen its weapons capability
  • Seoul dismisses offer of talks as “meaningless”
  • Speculation about a fifth nuclear test

What is happening?

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North Korea says it will continue to strengthen its self-defensive nuclear weapons capability.

The decision, in defiance of UN resolutions, was adopted at the congress of the country’s governing Worker’s Party.

The congress is the first to be held for 36 years.

  • 3,467 voting delegates
  • Held in April 25 House of Culture
  • Lasts four to five days

North Korea granted visas to scores of foreign journalists from 12 countries.

A BBC journalist was detained over the content of his broadcasts.

Is North Korea really still developing nuclear weapons?

#NorthKorea opens first party congress in over three decades amid speculations about another nuclear test pic.twitter.com/l8×8iMqC6e

— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) May 6, 2016

It says so, yes.

Pyongyang is adamant it has continued to engage in nuclear and missile development since the latest round of UN resolutions in March.

It has led to speculation that the country is planning to stage a fifth nuclear test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country won't use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is invaded: https://t.co/CHBdJQOF2q

— The Associated Press (@AP) May 7, 2016

Officials claim to have successfully produced a miniature nuclear warhead and launched a submarine-based ballistic missile.

Western experts say North Korea has:

  • 40 kg of plutonium
  • ie enough to build 8-12 nuclear weapons

Does South Korea feel threatened by the North?

Yes, it is fair to say.

Seoul has condemned the North’s claims to being a nuclear weapons state.

It says it will continue to put pressure on Pyongyang until it abandons its nuclear ambitions.

However, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un seemed to adopt a more conciliatory position on ties with the South in his speech.

He reportedly said military talks are needed to discuss ways to ease the tension.

South Korea, however, rejected the proposal as “meaningless”.

“Our stance, along with that of the international community, is consistent in that we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state. The government will continue to put forth efforts to make North Korea give up its nuclear programme through imposing tough sanctions and pressure,” South Korean Defence Ministry spokesperson Moon Sang-Gyun told reporters.

What is the reason for all this tension?

The 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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Therefore, the peninsula remains technically at war, divided between north and south.

North Korea regularly threatens the South and its major ally, the United States.

Pyongyang accuses Washington of planning a nuclear attack.

What they are saying

“We have not given up hope on dialogue, but it is only when the North shows sincerity about denuclearisation that genuine dialogue is possible.” – Unification Ministry spokesperson Cheong Joon-Hee.

“Let’s open the heyday of building a powerful prosperous nation in this year of the seventh congress of the Worker’s Party of Korea” – slogan on wall of factory.

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