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(LEAD) N. Korea does not stipulate itself as nuclear power in ruling party bylaws

All News 17:37 June 10, 2016

(ATTN: FIXES name in 10th para)

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea did not stipulate itself as a nuclear-armed state in its recently revised set of ruling party bylaws, an analysis of the document showed Friday, spawning speculation that Pyongyang has left open the possibility of negotiations over its denuclearization.

Yonhap News Agency analyzed the 52-page document after having recently obtained it. The analysis found no reference to the communist state as a nuclear power contrary to widespread expectation.

The set of party bylaws, which is regarded as being superior to the Constitution in the party-centric state, was amended during the 7th party congress last month, in what analysts said was a move to further strengthen North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's grip on power.

Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University, noted that Pyongyang might have signaled its intention to engage in negotiations over its nuclear program amid its deepening isolation stemming from its nuclear and missile provocations.

"If North Korea had stated itself as a nuclear power in the bylaws, this would have posed a great impediment to its efforts to hold talks and negotiations with the United States (over its nuclear program)," he said.

Pyongyang has already claimed itself to be a nuclear power in its Constitution.

During the May party congress, the reclusive state went further to portray itself as a "responsible" nuclear state, saying that it will "permanently" defend its policy of simultaneously pursuing economic development and nuclear armament.

All these moves have been seen as an indication of Pyongyang's unwillingness to bargain away its nuclear arms despite its pressing need to break out of international isolation and shore up its debilitated economy.

Observers have argued that with Pyongyang having conducted four nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 and this year, it would seek negotiations over a nuclear arms reduction rather than denuclearization.

In the revised document of party regulations, the North described its current leader as a "great leader," bringing the status of the 30-something strongman closer to that of his two late predecessors: national founder Kim Il-sung and former leader Kim Jong-il. Kim Il-sung is the current leader’s grandfather, while Kim Jong-il is his father.

The North calls Kim's predecessors "eternal leader" and "eternal head," respectively.

The document also said that citizens age 18 or older can join the party and are obliged to offer it 2 percent of their monthly income, and that party membership can be canceled when a member opposes the party's policy, engages in any factional activity or inflicts "grave" damage on the party.

The set of rules, in addition, defined the ruling party as one rooted in the ideological principles of Kim's two predecessors, in an apparent move to justify the long-standing hereditary rule by the Kim family.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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