North Korea Workers’ Party Congress’s stance on nuclear weapons unacceptable
North Korea held the seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party. North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un emphasized that North Korea is “a responsible nuclear weapons state” but this is not acceptable.
Kin Jong Un elevated to Party Chairman
The Workers’ Party Congress was held as the first of its kind in 36 years since 1980. The previous Congress was held during the era of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather. The aim of the Congress this time was to solidify Kim Jong Un’s power base by leveraging glory of late president Kim who still commands considerable respect from the people. Kim Jong Un who held the title of first secretary was bestowed with the new title of chairman, which is the highest title in the party. His canonization advanced further.
In the opening ceremony of the Party Congress, the nuclear weapon test in January and the long-range ballistic missile test in February were praised. During the summary report on the party activities on the third day, North Korea declared itself “a responsible nuclear weapons state.” North Korea clearly stated that it is a nuclear weapons state in the revised constitution adopted in 2012. The recent declaration is reflection of its desire to establish the possession of nuclear weapons as an accomplished fact and relate to the United States and other countries on equal terms.
However, North Korea’s nuclear weapons development threatens peace and stability of the region including Japan. It also violates the United Nations Security Council resolutions on economic sanctions. The international community will never accept it. It is no surprise that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticized North Korea’s stance on nuclear weapons, saying it is “absolutely unacceptable.”
he summary report on the party activities praised parallel policy tracks of nuclear forces enhancement and economic construction, and directed to thoroughly implement the 5-year national strategy for economic development from 2016 to 2020. If North Korea continues nuclear weapons development, it will be increasingly isolated in the international community and face with even more difficulties in economic construction.
In the wake of the nuclear weapons test in January, the United Nations Security Council imposed new economic sanctions on North Korea which is placed under increasing pressure from the international community. North Korea’s food production decreased last year for the first time since 2010 due to a drought, and it is expected to experience a severe food shortage. If the effect of economic sanctions is added on the top of this, the life of North Korean people will be impacted greatly. North Korea should cease to pursue a self-defeating policy.
North Korean people were coercively mobilized for the Party Congress. The “70-day struggle” pre-Party Congress campaign was defined as “struggles for total mobilization, total desperation and total offensive of the entire party, nation and people to glorify the Party Congress.” Results were demanded in all fields including military, agriculture and mining. The South Korean government analyzes that “negative social side-effects including residents’ discontent are increasing due to sanctions and forced preparation for the Party Congress.”
This time, North Korea accommodated about 120 foreign journalists. However, it did not allow them to freely cover the Party Congress and only provided them with access to it for a brief period of time.
The North Korean leadership complained about the contents of the British BBC report, and a BBC correspondent was temporarily detained. North Korean system’s peculiar nature was revealed through this. The dictatorship which does not guarantee freedom of speech and press and ignore human rights of its people does not have a promising future. Kim Jong Un should recognize this.
US, Japan and South Korea should increase vigilance
North Korea tried but failed to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile called Musudan on April 15, the birthday of Kim Il Sung. Nevertheless, North Korea will undoubtedly continue to improve nuclear technology in the future. Japan needs to collaborate with the United States and South Korea to be continuously vigilant about North Korea.