April 2 Photo Brief: North Korea makes nuclear threats, 100th floor of the One World Trade Center, funeral for victims of Myanmar mosque fire
North Korea makes nuclear threats, 100th floor of the One World Trade Center, funeral for victims of Myanmar mosque fire and more in today’s daily brief. | Warning: Photos may depict death or injury.
North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid
Jack Kim and Ju-min Park
12:42 p.m. EDT, April 2, 2013
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Tuesday it would revive a mothballed nuclear reactor able to produce bomb-grade plutonium but stressed it was seeking a deterrent capacity and did not repeat recent threats to attack South Korea and the United States.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the crisis over North Korea had gone too far and he appealed for dialogue and negotiation to resolve the situation.
“Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability,” Ban, a South Korean, told a news conference during a visit to Andorra.
The crisis flared after Pyongyang was hit with U.S. sanctions for conducting a third nuclear test in February and the United States and South Korea staged military drills that North Korea viewed as “hostile”.
Pyongyang then threatened a nuclear strike on the United States, missile strikes on its Pacific bases and war with South Korea, prompting Washington to bolster forces in the region.
The state-owned KCNA news agency announced on Tuesday that North Korea would relaunch all nuclear facilities for both electricity and military uses.
One of the most isolated and unpredictable states in the world, North Korea carried out its third nuclear test since 2006 but is seen as some years away from producing a deliverable nuclear weapon, although it claims to have a deterrent.
A speech by the North’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, given on Sunday but published in full by KCNA on Tuesday, appeared to dampen any prospect of a direct confrontation with the United States by emphasizing that nuclear weapons would ensure the country’s safety as a deterrent.
“Our nuclear strength is a reliable war deterrent and a guarantee to protect our sovereignty,” Kim said. “It is on the basis of a strong nuclear strength that peace and prosperity can exist and so can the happiness of people’s lives.”
Kim’s speech, delivered to the central committee meeting of the ruling Workers Party of Korea, hinted at a small shift away from threats against Seoul and Washington, but it remained some distance from calling any kind of end to the crisis.
“The fact that this (speech) was made at the party central committee meeting, which is the highest policy-setting organ, indicates an attempt to highlight economic problems and shift the focus from security to the economy,” said Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.