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North Korea amends constitution to bolster nuclear power status

North Korea has enshrined the use of nuclear weapons in its constitution, state media reported on Thursday.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that North Korea’s parliament unanimously had passed “a crucial agenda item on formulating [North Korea’s] nuclear force policy as the basic law of the state.” Kim Jong Un, using the acronym for the country’s official name, said:

The DPRK’s nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout with anything.

Kim believes it is “very important” to “accelerate the modernisation of nuclear weapons in order to hold a certain line of strategic deterrence.”

The Nuclear Weapons Amendment comes a year after North Korea declared itself a nuclear-armed state and enshrined the right to launch nuclear warning strikes as self-defence.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, Kim discussed expanding North Korean-Russian military co-operation. The US and South Korea are concerned that North Korea may turn to Russia for technical assistance for its nuclear missile programmes.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol warned Pyongyang of an “overwhelming response” if it uses nuclear weapons, as Seoul put on the first large-scale military parade in a decade in a show of force. Pyongyang has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles with mock-up nuclear warheads in recent months. Pyongyang last conducted a nuclear test in 2017.

Analysts said having the nuclear policy written into the constitution is a symbolic move, declaring the North’s intention to have a permanent nuclear force that it would not negotiate over.


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