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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, September 24, 2018

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No force can stop us: North Korea won’t end nuclear program

North Korea issued a statement on Saturday

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PYONGYANG, North Korea - Defiant in its stance, North Korea issued a statement on Saturday, claiming that it would remain committed to its nuclear program even in 2018.

The reclusive nation, which has pursued its nuclear program in defiance of international criticism and a series of new sanctions by the UN Security Council, said in a statement released in its state-run news agency KCNA, "Do not expect any change in our policy.”

The statement referring to its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said, "Its entity as an invincible power can neither be undermined nor be stamped out. The DPRK, as a responsible nuclear weapons state, will lead the trend of history to the only road of independence and justice, weathering all tempests on this planet.”

It added, "No Force Can Prevail over Independence and Justice," and provided a timeline of the country's alleged 2017 nuclear weapon achievements.

Most of its achievements listed focused on possible U.S. engagement.

The statement added that North Korea will "continue bolstering the capabilities for self-defense and preemptive attack with the nuclear force as the pivot as long as the U.S. and its vassal forces persist in nuclear threat.”

In the KCNA report, North Korea boasted about its new capability to strike "the heart of the U.S.” and its new "status" as a "world-class nuclear power." 

It added that it will "deal with the U.S.’s most ferocious declaration of war with fire surely and definitely."

Throughout 2017, North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests, despite constant criticism from the West and sanctions.

Kim Jong Un has carried out more missile tests in the last two years than he did during his entire 17-year reign.

Pyongyang has conducted 16 tests this year and has fired 23 missiles, in addition to a nuclear test in September, despite UN sanctions and threats from U.S. President Donald Trump and anger from South Korea and Japan.

He marked the start of this year’s missile tests by launching its new medium-range Pukguksong-2 (KN-15) ballistic missile into Sea of Japan on February 11.

The ballistic missile traveled 310 miles.

Then, on March 6, North Korea launched five medium-range Scud-er ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, with four of them travelling more than 600 miles.

The same month, on March 21, its mobile-launched missile exploded moments after launch in failed test.

On April 4, North Korea test-fired a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, with the missile travelling just 34 miles after spinning out of control.

Weeks later, on April 15, its KN-17 missile explodes almost immediately after take-off.

On April 28, the country’s KN-17 missile travelled just 21 miles before breaking apart in mid-air.

Then, on May 14, North Korea launched a missile, believed to be a KN-17, which flew about 480 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan.

Days later, on May 21, it conducted another KN-17 test, with the projectile travelling more than 300 miles into the same sea.

As the month came to an end, on May 29, North Korea’s short-range ballistic missile was tracked for six minutes before landing in the sea.

On June 8, North Korea fired anti-ship missiles into the Sea of Japan.

While that was its only missile test conducted during the month, the subsequent month, it tested two missiles, both stoking fears in the region and beyond.

On July 4, North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a Hwasong-14 which crashed into the Sea of Japan after travelling about 580 miles.

Then, on July 28, it test-fired another ICBM, which flew 621 miles for 45 minutes.

This was the longest flight of a ballistic missile fired by North Korea, which crashed into the sea inside Japan's Economic Exclusion Zone.

On August 26, North Korea test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles, with the second blowing up within seconds and the third failing in flight.

Days later, on August 29, North Korea fired a KN-17 over northern Japan - sparking evacuations and air raid sirens in towns.

The missile travelled 1,667 miles before breaking apart.

On September 3, Pyongyang carried out its sixth test of a nuclear weapon, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb, which resulted in a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. 

Experts then stated that they believe the device was up to eight times more powerful than the bomb U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Weeks later, on September 15, North Korea fired another ballistic missile over northern Japan, which became its 14th missile test of the year.

The ballistic missile flew for about 2,300 miles before hitting the sea.

On November 29, the country’s larger Hwasong-15 ICBM was launched near Pyongsong.

The ICBM travelled for an unprecedented 50 minutes and reached a height of 2,800 miles. 

The missile flew 600 miles into the Sea of Japan.

Experts fear that the country, which has previously marked such commemorations as Jong il’s death, with rocket tests and military drills could be planning a symbolic event for the anniversary.

According to Washington’s CSIS, North Korea has favoured “high missile test activity” in December over the past five years, increasing fears of a strike.

The UN Security Council responded by adopting a new set of severe U.S.-drafted sanctions designed to further strangle North Korea's energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.

However, North Korea responded and called those sanctions “an act of war” and said the United States and other nations that supported the strict measures will pay a heavy price.

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