North Korea said on Wednesday its ruling Workers’ Party would hold a congress from May 6, ending its silence on the date of the first such conference in 36 years, as South Korea said another North Korean nuclear test appeared imminent.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to use the congress to cement his leadership and to formally adopt his policy, known as “byongjin”, to push simultaneously for economic development and nuclear weapons capability.
North Korea’s last party congress was in 1980, before Kim was born. Kim, the third member of his family to lead the country, is believed to be 33.
Byongjin follows Kim’s father’s Songun, or “military first”, policy and his grandfather’s Juche, the North’s home-grown founding ideology that combines Marxism and extreme nationalism.
The party congress, first announced in October, will be closely watched for any new policies and for how the country will present its pursuit of nuclear-weapon capability.
North Korea’s drive to develop a nuclear capability has intensified since January, when it conducted its fourth nuclear test and followed that with a string of tests of missiles that could deliver such a weapon.
Old rival South Korea, and others nervously watching the North’s defiance of U.N. resolutions aimed at curbing its nuclear and ballistic missile technologies, expect another test within days.
“Considering the state of readiness at the nuclear test site, it’s our view that a nuclear test can happen at any time,” South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told a briefing on Wednesday.
South Korea’s military said this week Kim’s go-ahead was all that was needed for a new test.
North Korea said this week it needed a “powerful nuclear deterrence” to counter U.S. hostility and threats. (Courtesy Reuters)