North Korea can not abandon nuclear programme, ambassador says
21 November, 2017, 01:52 | Author: Edward Snyder
Song Tao's official mission is to brief North Korean officials on the outcome of China's ruling Communist Party congress held last month.
During its parliamentary briefing, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that while Pyongyang inspected its military's General Political Bureau for the first time in two decades, Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Won-hong, the bureau's chief and deputy chief, were punished.
"We have been watching the situation as we have gathered such intelligence (on the punishment)", the agency was quoted by Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party as saying.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017.
China sent veteran diplomat Song Tao, head of the Communist Party's global department, to Pyongyang to brief North Korean official Choe Ryong-hae on last month's twice-a-decade national congress.
Asked to elaborate on the punishment, the lawmaker said that the NIS is still trying to get details.
South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers Monday that North Korea has punished two of its top military officers, including one widely seen as its second-most powerful official, during a highly unusual inspection of the military's powerful political bureau.
The report came as North Korea is struggling to head off worldwide sanctions that were toughened after its sixth and biggest nuclear test in September.
According to the intelligence officers, the move is meant to stifle the impact of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the worldwide community in retaliation for the country's ongoing development and testing of nuclear devices and ballistic missiles.
"(Pyongyang) has devised a system whereby party organs report people's economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information", the NIS said.
He said the country was "ready" for new sanctions and dismissed the possibility of North Korea being added to a list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
South Korean intelligence officers are also monitoring the North for signs of new missile launches to ratchet up the threats against the USA under the guise of space development. South Korean intelligence officials suspect the ban may be an attempt by North Korean authorities to reduce the negative impact of sanctions, which the United Nations imposed on the regime for its repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
As to the possibility of another nuclear explosion, the NIS said there are now no signs of an imminent test.
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Some analysts have said Pyongyang could use the designation as a pretext for renewed weapons tests after a two-month hiatus. The United States has designated only three other countries - Iran, Sudan and Syria - as state sponsors of terrorism.
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