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North Korea calls for WMD buildup

September 9, 2017

North Korea has marked its founding day with calls for more nuclear and ballistic weapons of mass destruction. The US will call a vote Monday on a draft UN resolution for more sanctions.

North Korea founding day
Image: Reuters/Kyodo

North Korea celebrated its founding day on Saturday with calls from state media for a buildup of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, just as the United States is pushing for a new round of international sanctions on the regime.

In a front-page editorial, the North's state-run media said the country "must make cutting-edge Juche weapons in greater quantities." Juche is the country's Marxist and nationalist ideology of self-reliance.

"No matter how the US and its puppets kick up a ruckus, our republic, which has a strong military and the most powerful Juche bombs and weapons, and whose territory has all turned into fortresses, and all its people armed to the teeth, will remain an eternal iron-clad citadel," it said.

South Korean officials have warned that the North could test-launch a ballistic missile or conduct another nuclear explosion to mark Foundation Day, which is usually celebrated with pageantry and military parades. Last year, the North conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9.

Read: North Korea's war of words with the world

US mulling strategy

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose again this week after North Korea tested its sixth nuclear device, saying it was a hydrogen bomb capable of being loaded onto a ballistic missile.

On July 28, it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts said could reach the continental United States. This was followed by the test of another ballistic missile, which flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

US President Donald Trump has said all options, including military action, are on the table to deal with the threat.

Experts warn that hundreds of thousands of people could potentially be killed in a conflagaration on the Korean Peninsula.

Read: North Korea: From war to nuclear weapons

What are Washington's options in the Korean conflict? DW's Carsten von Nahmen

New UN sanctions on the table

The United States plans to call a vote on Monday on a draft UN Security Resolution to slap tougher sanctions on North Korea, including an oil import embargo, a ban on textile exports and restrictions on the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad.

It is unclear whether China and Russia would support the US proposal, either in full or in part. Both veto-wielding UN Security Council members have said sanctions are unlikely to change the North's behavior and might actually be counterproductive.

Trump has been highly critical of China, which accounts for more that 90 percent of the North's trade, for not taking tougher action on Pyongyang. China worries about instability on its doorstep and the United States expanding its military imprint in the region.

Read: A closer look at which countries trade with North Korea 

Both China and Russia have called for dialogue and a reduction of tensions, including a halt of US military exercises in the region in exchange for a halt of North Korean ballistic and nuclear tests.

Beijing is critical of South Korea's plan to deploy the advanced US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which it says could be used for other purposes against China.

North Korea says it needs ballistic and nuclear weapons to defend itself and regularly threatens the United States, including recently by saying it would conduct ballistic missile tests near Guam, the location of a major US military base.

China was North Korea's last major trading partner.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)