Austin discusses North Korean ‘missile threat’ with Japan, South Korea

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International tension has been rising over a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, actions long banned by the UN Security Council, reports Asian Lite News

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on Wednesday with the defense ministers of South Korea and Japan about the threats posed by North Korea after a series of missile launches by Pyongyang, the Pentagon said.

International tension has been rising over a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, actions long banned by the UN Security Council. January was a record month of such tests, with at least seven launches including a new type of “hypersonic missile” able to maneuver at high speed.

“The leaders emphasized that the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches are destabilising to regional security and a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

North Korea boasted on Tuesday that it is one of only a handful of countries in the world to field nuclear weapons and advanced missiles and the only one standing up to the United States by “shaking the world” with missile tests.

An excerpt of a confidential United Nations report said that North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs during the past year and cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges were an important revenue source for Pyongyang.

North Korea boasts of ‘shaking the world’

North Korea boasted on Tuesday that it is one of only a handful of countries in the world to field nuclear weapons and advanced missiles and the only one standing up to the United States by “shaking the world” with missile tests.

International tension has been rising over a recent series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, actions long banned by the U.N. Security Council. January was a record month of such tests, with at least seven launches, including a new type of “hypersonic missile” able to manoeuvre at high speed.

Also among the tests was the first firing since 2017 of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, capable of striking U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean.

A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said a series of tests since New Year represented “remarkable achievements” that strengthened North Korea’s “war deterrence.”

It also cited the Hwasong-15, the longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ever launched by North Korea, which hasn’t been fired since its first test in 2017, and is believed to have the range to deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.

“In today’s world where many countries waste time dealing with the United States with submission and blind obedience, there’s only our country on this planet that can shake the world by firing a missile with the U.S. mainland in its range,” it said.

“There are more than 200 countries in the world, but only a few have hydrogen bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and hypersonic missiles,” it said.

N.Korea in festive mood ahead of late leader’s birth anniversary

North Korea is revving up a festive mood ahead of late leader Kim Jong-il’s 80th birth anniversary next week, opening a series of commemorative events, according to Pyongyang’s state media on Thursday.

Kim Jong-il, father of current leader Kim Jong-un, led the reclusive regime from 1994 until his death in 2011.

His birth anniversary, which falls on February 16, is marked as a major national holiday in the North.

On Wednesday, the North held a national awards ceremony in Pyongyang to commemorate the late leader, Pyongyang’d official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

It awarded 8,732 officials, workers and soldiers of merit for carrying out policies of the ruling Workers’ Party, including four with the Order of Kim Jong-il, according to the North’s main newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Other events marking the late leader’s birthday were held in the capital the same day, including a symposium to discuss his achievements, a cooking contest and an exhibition of visual artworks on the late leader, the KCNA added.

Eyes are on whether Pyongyang will hold a massive public event for the anniversary, as it usually marks every fifth and 10th anniversary with larger celebrations.

Keen attention is being paid to whether it will stage another military parade.

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