Kim Jong-un visits military as Koreas slide into Cold War standoff

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Seoul, Jan 10: North Korea's leader has taken a victory tour of military headquarters to celebrate the country's widely disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test.

Kim Jong Un called the nuclear test "a self-defensive step for reliably defending the peace on the Korean Peninsula and the regional security from the danger of nuclear war caused by the US-led imperialists," according to a dispatch today from state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Kim Jong Un

"It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state and a fair action that nobody can criticize," Kim was reported as saying during his tour of the People's Armed Forces Ministry. [Who is Kim Jong-un?]

The tone of Kim's comments, which sought to glorify him and justify a test that has been viewed with outrage by much of the world, is typical of state media propaganda.

But they also provide insight into North Korea's long-maintained argument that it is the presence of tens of thousands of US troops in South Korea and Japan, and a "hostile" US policy that seeks to topple the government in Pyongyang, that make North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons absolutely necessary.

Kim posed for photos with leading military officials in front of statues of the two members of his family who had led the country previously -- Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.

In his reported comments, he also sought to link the purported success of the nuclear test to a ruling Workers' Party convention in May, the party's first since 1980.

He's expected to use the congress to announce major state policies and shake up the country's political elite to further consolidate his power. Kim's tour came as world powers looked for ways to punish the North over a nuclear test that, even if not of a hydrogen bomb, still likely pushes Pyongyang closer to its goal of a nuclear-armed missile that can reach the US mainland.

In the wake of the test on Wednesday, the two Koreas have settled into the kind of Cold War-era standoff that has defined their relationship over the past seven decades.

Since Friday, South Korea has been blasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda from huge speakers along the border, and the North is reportedly using speakers of its own in an attempt to keep its soldiers from hearing the South Korean messages.

AP

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