North Korea’s Kim Jong-un hosts huge celebration after nuclear test

Leader lauds scientists and technicians at a lavish event, praising the countrys largest exam as a great auspicious event in national history

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hosted a huge celebration to congratulate his nuclear scientists and technicians who steered the country’s sixth and larger nuclear exam a week ago, its official news agency said on Sunday.

News of the celebration comes as the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said in an interview published Sunday the showdown over North Korea’s nuclear and rocket program was the world’s worst crisis “in years”.

South Korea had been bracing for another long-range missile launching in time for the 69 th anniversary of North Korea’s founding on Saturday, but no fresh provocations were spotted.

Instead, amid numerous events in the country, Kim threw a banquet topped with an art performance and a photo conference with the leader himself, the official bureau KCNA said. KCNA did not specify when the banquet ever held, but analysts said it had likely been on Saturday.

Kim Jong-un is congratulated by North Korea’s elite at an event to mark the latest nuclear test and the country’s 69 th anniversary. Photo: STR/ AFP/ Getty Images

Photos released on Sunday by KCNA depicted the young leader breaking into a broad smile at the people’s theatre in Pyongyang with two prominent scientists: Ri Hong-sop, head of North Korea’s atomic weapon institute, and Hong Sung-mu, deputy director of the munitions industry department. Ri is a former director of the Yongbyon nuclear research centre, North Korea’s main nuclear installations north of Pyongyang, where Hong also ran as a chief engineer.

North Korea had said the latest test was an advanced hydrogen bomb. There was no independent confirmation but some western experts said there was enough strong evidence to suggest the reclusive country has either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting very close.

KCNA said on Sunday the scientists and technicians” brought the great auspicious event in national history, an extra-large event through the perfect success in the test of H-bomb “. Kim praised the developers in his own remarks as” taking the leading” in attaining the” final aim of completing the nation nuclear force” in line with his parallel pursuit of nuclear and economic development.

” The recent exam of the H-bomb is the great victory won by the Korean people at the cost of their blood while stiffening their belts in the arduous period ,” Kim was quoted as saying.

Ri and Hong’s roles have also been noted overseas, prompting the UN, the US and South Korea to blacklist them.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches the celebrations with his wife, Ri Sol-ju. Photo: STR/ AFP/ Getty Images

In an interview published by the French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Guterres said ” it’s the most serious[ crisis] that we have had to face in years”, acknowledging he was ” very worried “.

” To date, we have had wars which have been initiated after a well thought-out decision ,” he said.” But we also know that other conflicts have started through an escalation caused by sleepwalking. We have to hope that the seriousness of this menace sets us on the path of reason before it is too late .”

Guterres said the key question was to get North Korea to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile programme and respect UN security council resolutions.

” But we must also maintain the unity of the security council at all costs, because it is the only tool which are able to carry out a diplomatic initiative with a chance of success ,” he said.

The US wants the security council to vote on Monday to enforced tougher sanctions against Pyongyang, despite resistance from China and Russia.

A US-presented draft resolution calls for an petroleum embargo on North Korea, an assets freeze on Kim, a ban on textiles and an end to pays of North Korean guest workers.

Russia and China are believed to be opposed to the measures as a whole, except for the ban on textiles, during a session of experts Friday.

The Japanese defence pastor, Itsunori Onodera, said it was vital to exert pressure on North Korea through additional sanctions, including blocking or slowing its fuel supplies.

” If we put firm pressure on North Korea such that it realises it cannot develop weapons, it will accept dialogue and we can progression with diplomatic efforts ,” Onodera told public broadcaster NHK on Sunday.” Unless we firmly apply pressure, North Korea will not change its direction .”

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