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N.K. leader may make official completion of 'nuke force' in New Year's message: Seoul

All Headlines 12:17 December 05, 2017

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may make the completion of its nuclear program official in his New Year's message, a Seoul official said Tuesday.

The North announced last week that it has completed its "state nuclear force" with the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims is capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

Kim is likely to declare the achievement in his New Year's speech, a South Korean unification ministry official said.

"After that, the North may unveil its stance on how to carry out the so-called byongjin policy," the official said, referring to Kim's signature dual-track policy of seeking nuclear armament and economic growth in tandem.

Seoul has rejected Pyongyang's unilateral claim to have completed its nuclear program, saying that there are doubts about the North's missile capability, including the re-entry and terminal guidance technology.

Experts said that the North is likely to shift its focus to ways to bolster its feeble economy in the face of tougher international sanctions.

The ministry official also said that there is a need to watch how or whether the North would hold a meeting of "Mallima pacesetters."

Mallima is an imaginary horse that can run extreme distances at a very high speed. The term is used in North Korea to highlight the country's push to get people to produce results quickly.

North Korea announced in January its plan to hold a conference under the new slogan for self-reliance at the end of this year. The conference would involve top performers who are leading efforts to overcome the country's economic difficulties. But the North's media has barely mentioned it.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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