SEOUL, South Korea
A top North Korean decision-making body issued a pointed warning Sunday, saying that nuclear weapons are “the nation’s life” and will not be traded even for “billions of dollars.”
The comments came in a statement released after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party. The meeting, which set a “new strategic line” calling for building both a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal, comes amid a series of near-daily threats from Pyongyang in recent weeks, including a vow to launch nuclear strikes on the United States and a warning Saturday that the Korean Peninsula was in a “state of war.”
Pyongyang is angry over annual U.S.-South Korean military drills and a new round of U.N. sanctions that followed its Feb. 12 nuclear test, the country’s third. Analysts see a full-scale North Korean attack as unlikely and say the threats are more likely efforts to provoke softer policies toward Pyongyang from a new government in Seoul, to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get the North more aid, and to solidify the young North Korean leader’s image and military credentials at home.