Saturday, May 7, 2016


Satellite photos reveal North Korea is planning fresh nuclear bomb tests

Satellite photos reveal North Korea is planning fresh nuclear bomb tests as Kim Jong-un tightens his grip on Pyongyang and is elevated to the same status as his 'dear' father.

Satellite photos taken over North Korea have prompted fears the country is planning fresh nuclear bomb tests as Kim Jong-un is set to tighten his grip on Pyongyang by receiving a new title today.

Both his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung were General Secretary of the Worker's Party and the third-generation leader is expected to receive a similar mantle, although the exact wording has not yet been revealed.

The announcement is set to be made today during a rare Congress of the Worker's Party in Pyongyang, the first to take place since 1980.

The move is a clear sign he remains firmly in control despite his country's deepening international isolation over his plans to keep developing more and better nuclear weapons.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said the agenda for the congress in Pyongyang today included reviewing the works of the party's Central Committee and Central Audit Commission, revising party rules, electing Kim to the top party post and electing a new central leadership for the party.

Kim is already head of the party, but with the title of First Secretary. It was not immediately clear if he would be given the same title as his predecessors, or a new one.

Kim opened the lavish congress with a brief speech on Friday which singled out North Korea's advances in developing nuclear weapons and rockets capable of putting satellites into orbit, as examples of the country's progress in the face of international criticism and tough sanctions that threaten to further stifle its struggling economy.

Along with being high political theatre filled with pomp and ceremony, the congress is being held in a lavishly decorated hall decked out with bright red banners and flags bearing the party's hammer, sickle and pen symbol.

The gathering is a major milestone for the young North Korean leader, who was not yet born when the previous congress was held in 1980.
Kim called the congress a 'historic' milestone in a grand struggle pitting the North against 'all manner of threats and desperate challenges by the imperialists.'

He said it would 'put forward the strategic line and tasks to keep ushering in a great golden age of socialist construction and the direction of advance of our revolution'.

The reference to what the North claims was a successful hydrogen bomb test in January brought a standing ovation from the more than 3,400 delegates at the congress.

To put a finer point on his defiant message, outside observers believe, the North may be preparing to carry out another nuclear test soon, possibly before the congress is over.

An analysis released by the respected 38 North website, which follows developments in North Korea, said commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Punggye-ri Nuclear test site from May 5 suggests Pyongyang may be preparing for a nuclear test 'in the near future'.

The analysis said that overall activity at the site is low, but vehicles have been spotted at what is believed to be the Command Centre, located approximately 3.7 miles south of the test site.

Since assuming power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011, Kim has pushed a 'byongjin' guns-and-butter policy of developing North Korea's nuclear weapons while also building its domestic economy.

Though the dual strategy is his trademark policy, many outside economists believe it is unlikely to succeed because of the heavy price the nuclear programme brings in international sanctions which keep the country's economy from achieving sustainable growth.

All of the previous six congresses were convened by Kim's grandfather, national founder Kim Il-sung. The previous one was used as the stage to formally announce Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, as the second heir to power.

'Eternal president' Kim Il-sung died in 1994, and 'eternal general-secretary' Kim Jong-il - who rarely spoke in public - never called for the convening of a congress, though they were on paper supposed to be held every five years.

This one is clearly designed to put the spotlight on Kim Jong-un, who has yet to travel abroad or meet any world leaders.

With that in mind, the North has invited more than 100 foreign journalists in to cover the event, though none has been allowed inside the convention hall.

Instead, they have been kept busy touring showcase factories, hospitals and historic sites.

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