N. Korea marks founding anniversary with adversarial words to US

Takuya Karube, Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 09 2017 05:04 PM

North Korean soldiers salute at Mansudae hill in Pyongyang, North Korea on the 69th founding anniversary of the country. Kyodo, via Reuters

BEIJING - North Korea marked Saturday the 69th anniversary of its founding boasting of its status as a world-class military power and taking an explicitly adversarial stand against the United States, as the international community struggles to rein in the secretive country following a series of weapons tests.

North Korea's most influential newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, in its front page praised the country for becoming an "invincible nuclear power" after having succeeded in possessing an atomic bomb, a hydrogen bomb and even an intercontinental ballistic missile.

With North Korea's upgraded military capabilities, the newspaper warned that the United States and its "vassal" forces are doomed to be defeated, at a time when the international community is carefully watching the North for signs of another missile launch or other provocations on the occasion of the anniversary.

Rodong Sinmun also denounced in a separate commentary the administration of US President Donald Trump for spearheading new UN sanctions against North Korea and threatened that "as long as the United States will pursue hostile action, it will continue to receive big and small gift packages from us."

The US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan left its home port in Yokosuka, located south of Tokyo, for a patrol mission of the region on Friday.

Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the day of the anniversary. This year's ceremony comes about a week after the country's by far most powerful ever underground blast of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea has also test-fired already nearly 20 ballistic missiles this year alone, including two ICBMs in July believed capable of reaching the mainland United States.

Just days before its sixth nuclear test, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile that crossed Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.

In response to the sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, the United States and its allies are trying to have the UN Security Council endorse a new resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea.

The United States, which has proposed an oil embargo and a freeze on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's assets, among other punitive steps against the country, has requested the 15-member Security Council to vote on the resolution on Monday.

China and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the council, hold the key to whether North Korea will face stricter sanctions.

Both China and Russia have condemned North Korea for the latest nuclear test but have adhered to their long-held positions of prioritizing the restart of negotiations, rather than putting too much pressure on Pyongyang in the belief that doing so would further escalate tensions.

On the occasion of the 69th founding anniversary, North Korea's official media reported that Kim received a congratulatory message from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The relations between the two countries are based on the excellent tradition of friendship and mutual respect," the Korean Central News Agency quoted the message as saying. "I am convinced that further development of the bilateral relations in all fields will conform with the fundamental interests of the two peoples and contribute to consolidating the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia as a whole."

However, there are no reports of Kim receiving a message of greetings from Chinese President Xi Jinping, a possible indication of fraying ties between the two neighbors.

While the rest of the world is worrying if or when North Korea may tame its nuclear ambitions, the country's citizens, young and old alike, dressed up for one of its most important national holidays. Many were seen laying flowers before giant statues in Pyongyang of state founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il, the current leader's father, who died in late 2011.