North Korea’s nuclear program is directed at the United States, a close adviser to Kim Jong Un said after last week’s atomic test, according to a Japanese lawmaker who just returned from Pyongyang.
The warning came as two U.S. military B-1 bombers flew over the southern half of the peninsula in a show of force against North Korea, and top military brass and diplomats alike warned Pyongyang the United States was prepared to take all steps to contain and punish the regime.
North Korea defied United Nations resolutions and international warnings by detonating its fifth and largest nuclear weapon Friday, declaring that it was a warhead that could be used to counter “the American threat.”
Antonio Inoki, a former professional wrestler who now serves in Japan’s parliament, returned Tuesday from a five-day visit to Pyongyang saying that Japan need not worry about the North’s nuclear program.
“This is not directed at Japan. The nuclear development is toward the United States,” Inoki quoted Ri Su Yong, an elder statesman of North Korean foreign affairs who is particularly close to Kim, as saying.
Ri was Pyongyang’s ambassador to Switzerland while Kim, now the 32-year-old North Korean leader, attended school there. He served as foreign minister in Kim’s regime until May, when he was promoted further up the Workers’ Party ranks and became a full member of the politburo and director of the party’s international relations department.
Inoki, who has tried to be a bridge between Japan and North Korea, told Japanese reporters who were waiting for him at Beijing airport that he spent 90 minutes with Ri on Saturday, the day after the nuclear test. But these were the only remarks he made as he arrived at the airport.
His trip coincided with the nuclear test and followed a series of provocative missile launches, several of which have landed within Japan’s air defense identification zone, earning harsh condemnation from Japan.
Although the missiles North Korea has been testing put only South Korea and parts of Japan and China within reach, many analysts agree that this is part of a larger program aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable to reaching the U.S. mainland. The bigger goal is to attach a nuclear warhead to that missile, they say.
The North Korean regime exists entirely on its opposition to the United States, with whom it signed an armistice agreement at the end of the Korean War, and gains its legitimacy from resisting the “American imperialists.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Anna Fifield