North Korea plot: Photo of secret meeting hints at deadly plan to take on enemies

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The photographs from the meeting of the Central Management Committee (CMC) – coming three months after widespread rumours about Kim’s death swept across the world – have been released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KNCA), and were highlighted by the 38 North website during an analysis published today. The 38 North report pointed to wording from a meeting last month, which called for the strengthening of the country’s “war deterrent”, but omitted the word “nuclear”, prompting speculation that the secretive nation was moderating its tone.

By deliberately releasing photos of the CMC’s “closed-door meeting” in which nuclear weapons specialists were present, and even shown speaking, Pyongyang was signalling that its nuclear program remains central to its policy

38 North

However, 38 North’s analysts said: “If North Korea’s intention was to modulate the tone of the text by leaving out the word ‘nuclear,’ it made its intent clearer through the photos.

“By deliberately releasing photos of the CMC’s “closed-door meeting” in which nuclear weapons specialists were present, and even shown speaking, Pyongyang was signalling that its nuclear program remains central to its policy.

“Two key figures appearing in the photos were Hong Sung Mu, vice director of the party’s Munitions Industry Department, and Ri Hong Sop, director of the Nuclear Weapons Institute and formerly the head of the Yongbyon Atomic Energy Research Institute.

“Hong and Ri are widely known as North Korea’s top nuclear weapons developers.

“Both were prominently shown in photographs with Kim Jong Un at nuclear weapons-related events in 2017, including Kim’s guidance of “the work for nuclear weaponisation” that September.”

The “nuanced” treatment of nuclear weapons in CMC meeting coverage was consistent with recent statements by North Korean officials indicating denuclearisation was off the table for now, the analysis suggested.

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Referring to a statement by Kim’s younger sister, the analysis added: “While Kim Yo-jong’s July 10 press statement seemed more conciliatory in tone than the previous Foreign Ministry statements, the bottom line was consistent with North Korea’s position since the Stockholm talks in October 2019: there will be no denuclearisation talks until the US withdraws its ‘hostile policy.’

“Kim added that North Korea must plan for long-term threats’ from the US and ‘strengthen and steadily increase our practical capabilities,’ which implied going ahead with North Korea’s weapons development and production plan.”

Kim Yo-Jong, who is not visible in the pictures, is nevertheless regarded as an increasingly influential figure within her brother’s regime.

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Journalist Roy Calley, who describes his numerous visits to the Hermit State in his book Look With Your Eyes and Tell the World, believes the 32-year-old’s recent elevation the country’s Politburo is highly significant.

He told “This suggests to me that she is being moved to a position of ultimate power.

“It’s always difficult to know how things work in Pyongyang, but experience suggests that the soft approach from the Supreme Leader no longer has favour.

“Her stance is hard-line and you could never imagine her having a cosy chat with Trump.”

In respect to recent suggestions, Kim Jong-un was either dead or incapacitated after bungled heart surgery, he added: “It’s possible that Kim Jong-un is struggling with health – if he is still alive, which I still question – and she is edging closer to ultimate power.

“These things happen in North Korea for a reason.

“There is never an accidental way of government.”

Meanwhile, South Korea and the United States are trying to agree on the scale, scope and timing of annual military exercises with the novel coronavirus threatening to disrupt the travel of US troops, South Korean officials said on Tuesday.

South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Defence Secretary Mark Esper had a telephone call on Tuesday but could not decide on details of the exercises, which usually begin in early August, officials said.

A South Korean official who declined to be identified, citing the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue said: “We’ll watch developments to determine the scale, date and methods of the exercises.

“We have to do what is necessary, but safety is also key to maintaining defence readiness posture.”

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