28 Sep 2023, 15:04

North Korea enshrines nuclear power status in constitution 

  SEOUL, Sept 28, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - North Korea has enshrined its status as a 
nuclear power in its constitution, with leader Kim Jong Un calling for more 
modern atomic weapons to counter the threat from the United States, state 
media reported Thursday.

Despite international sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme, North 
Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, ignoring 
warnings from the United States, South Korea and their allies.

Diplomatic efforts to convince Pyongyang to give up its atomic arsenal 
failed, and the constitutional change came after Kim's declaration last year 
that North Korea was an "irreversible" nuclear weapons state.

North Korea's "nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the 
basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout", Kim said at a 
meeting of the State People's Assembly, according to the official Korean 
Central News Agency.

The rubber-stamp parliament met on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kim said North Korea needed nuclear weapons to counter an existential threat 
from the United States and its allies.

The United States has "maximized its nuclear war threats to our Republic by 
resuming the large-scale nuclear war joint drills with clear aggressive 
nature and putting the deployment of its strategic nuclear assets near the 
Korean peninsula on a permanent basis", he said.

- 'Absolutely unacceptable' -

Kim described the recently enhanced security cooperation between Washington, 
Seoul and Tokyo as the "worst actual threat".

As a result, he added, "it is very important for the DPRK to accelerate the 
modernization of nuclear weapons in order to hold the definite edge of 
strategic deterrence".

Kim also "stressed the need to push ahead with the work for exponentially 
boosting the production of nuclear weapons and diversifying the nuclear 
strike means", according to KCNA.

Neighbouring Japan, however, said North Korea's atomic weapons programme was 
"absolutely unacceptable".

"North Korea's nuclear and missile development threatens the peace and 
security of our country and the international community," Japan's Chief 
Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Thursday in response to the 
constitutional change.

And South Korea said its special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace 
and Security Affairs spoke to his US and Japanese counterparts, and that the 
three "strongly condemned" the constitutional amendment.

They agreed to work towards creating "an environment where North Korea has no 
choice but to denuclearise", the foreign ministry in Seoul said in a 

With the nuclear status enshrined in the constitution, however, prospects of 
convincing North Korea to give up atomic weapons have dimmed, experts said.

"Kim's speech... signifies the permanence of his nuclear force," Yang Moon-
jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

"This pushes the prospect of North Korea's denuclearisation even further 

- Space, missile programmes -

North Korea's weapons tests this year included intercontinental ballistic 
missiles, and its military this month conducted what it described as 
simulations of a "tactical nuclear attack".

Pyongyang has also tried and failed twice this year to put a military spy 
satellite in orbit.

South Korea and the United States have ramped up their security cooperation 
in response, with large-scale joint drills and trilateral naval exercises 
with Japan.

The last known North Korean weapons test, involving two short-range ballistic 
missiles, took place while Kim was on his way to meet President Vladimir 
Putin in Russia.

Kim's visit to Russia -- his first abroad since the coronavirus pandemic -- 
fanned Western fears that Moscow and Pyongyang will defy sanctions and strike 
an arms deal.

Russia is believed to be interested in buying North Korean ammunition for its 
war in Ukraine, while Pyongyang wants Russian help with its missile and space 

Kim's Russia visit "and the potential strengthening of military cooperation 
(with Moscow) indicate an increased dedication towards branding itself into a 
formidable nuclear power", said Yang at the University of North Korean 

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