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North Korea nuclear program


North Korea vows to bolster nuclear force in response to U.S. threat

PUBLISHED Mon, May 01, 2017 - 6:44am EDT
Credit: KCNA

North Korea pledged Monday to accelerate the development of its nuclear weapons at "the maximum pace," citing U.S. "aggression" and "hysteria" and noting that nuclear weapons are the only way to avoid a U.S. attack. (more)

An unidentified spokesman for North Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement that the situation on the Korean Peninsula "has never inched closer to the brink of nuclear war," citing U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the Trump administration's policy.

"Now that the U.S. is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called 'maximum pressure and engagement,' the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence," the spokesman said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"The DPRK is fully ready to respond to any option taken by the U.S., and unless it withdraws its hideous hostile policy toward the DPRK and nuclear threat and blackmail, the DPRK will continue to bolster its military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive nuclear attack with the nuclear force as a pivot," the spokesman added.

The foreign ministry went on to explain that its nuclear weapons program is the only way to secure its sovereignty.

"If the DPRK had not had access to the powerful nuclear force and had not gotten itself ready to counter the U.S. and its vassal forces' provocation with merciless military counteraction, the U.S. would have committed without hesitation the same brigandish aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries," the ministry said, an apparent reference to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and other conflicts.

Monday's statement comes after weeks of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea's missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week warned of the possibility of a "major, major conflict" with North Korea.

Also on Monday, South Korean media revealed that Mike Pompeo, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is on an unannounced visit to South Korea to discuss the North Korean crisis. He is reportedly meeting with the head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service as well as other government officials.

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