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    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reacts as he watches a long range rocket launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 7, 2016.

    North Korea to ‘Accelerate’ Nuclear Arms Development, Unphased by US Sanctions

    © REUTERS/ KCNA
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    A North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday that the country is immune to the US sanctions designed to disconnect Pyongyang from global financial institutions and that an “acceleration” of missile programs and nuclear development was forthcoming.

    Choe Myong Nam, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said this spike in activity will include a working inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the development of "pre-emptive first-strike capability."

    Reuters reported on Monday that the White House might try to curb DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea) weapons development activity by enacting sweeping sanctions, citing a senior Washington official. 

    Calling the sanctions "heinous and inhumane," Choe said, "I think this is stemming from the visit by [US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] to Japan, South Korea and China … We of course are not afraid of any act like that … Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference."

    Choe also criticized the joint military exercises currently underway between South Korea and the US, an act that North Korea sees as a kind of dress rehearsal for invasion. He denounced remarks made last week by Tillerson that heavily implied that a military response to tensions with Pyongyang was forthcoming.

    He claimed that "All [Tillerson] was talking about is for the United States to take military actions on DPRK … In the light of such huge military forces involved in the joint military exercises, we have no other choice but to continue with our full acceleration of the nuclear programs and missile programs. It is because of these hostile activities on the part of the United States and South Korea." 

    Choe remained tight-lipped about the details surrounding the North’s rocket engine test on Sunday, only saying it was a positive step from his country that would undoubtedly lead to "fruitful outcomes."

    "I can tell you for sure that the inter-continental ballistic rockets of the DPRK will be launched at any time and at any place as decided by our Supreme Leadership," he said.

    There has been concern lately that Pyongyang may be close to developing a weapon that can reach the US, but Choe says the DPRK is simply preparing to counter an impending attack from Washington. 

    On Monday the North threatened to reduce the US to "ashes" if they encounter "even a single bullet" fired toward Pyongyang.

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    Tags:
    ballistic missile launches, preemptive strike, Nuclear Weapons, Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
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