North Korea, World Cup, Grenfell Tower: Your Thursday Briefing

Updated March 10, 2016 19:19:35

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un talking to nuclear scientists. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un talking to nuclear scientists. Photo: Kim Jong-un has ordered his military to be ready to launch attacks. (AFP: Korean Central News Agency)

Related Story: Kim Jong-un says North Korea has miniaturised nuclear warheads

Related Story: North Korea threatens nuclear strike on South, US

>Map: Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast city of Wonsan, flying approximately 500 kilometres, South Korea's military says.

North Korea has a large stockpile of short-range missiles and is developing long-range and intercontinental missiles.

Reports of the missiles being fired coincided with already heightened tension on the Korean peninsula after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket last month, leading to new UN Security Council and bilateral US sanctions.

The North fired six rockets into the sea from Wonsan last week using a multiple launch rocket system, supervised by leader Kim Jong-un, who ordered his military to be prepared to launch pre-emptive attacks against enemies.

I'd say the young man needs to pay more attention to the North Korean people and taking care of them than in pursuing these sorts of reckless capabilities.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby

Mr Kim said on Wednesday his country had miniaturised nuclear warheads to mount on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal in his first direct comment about nuclear warhead miniaturisation.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on Mr Kim's claim to have miniaturised nuclear warheads and accused him of "provocative rhetoric".

"I'd say the young man needs to pay more attention to the North Korean people and taking care of them than in pursuing these sorts of reckless capabilities," Mr Kirby said.

The Pentagon said this week it had not seen North Korea demonstrate a capability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead.

But Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department was working on US ballistic missile defences to be prepared.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6 but its claim to have set off a miniaturised hydrogen bomb has been disputed by the US and South Korean governments and many experts.

US and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North called "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

North to liquidate inter-Korean assets

On Thursday, the North also announced the liquidation of all remaining South Korean assets on its territory, referring to two now-shuttered joint projects — the Mount Kumgang tourism resort and the Kaesong joint industrial complex.

"We will completely liquidate all assets of South Korean firms and related institutions left behind in our region," the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.

"We nullify all agreements adopted by North and South Korea on economic cooperation and exchange programs," it added.

It also warned of other unspecified "special measures" — political, military and economic — it would take against the South in the future.

Last month, Seoul suspended operations in the jointly-run zone as punishment for the North's rocket launch and nuclear test.

The shock announcement prompted the North to expel all South Koreans from the estate and freeze all assets there, shutting down the last symbol of cross-border economic cooperation.

An association representing the 120 firms operating factories in Kaesong, which lies just across the North-South border, estimated the value of the assets left behind at almost $890 million.

Reuters/AFP

Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, defence-forces, nuclear-issues, korea-democratic-peoples-republic-of, united-states, korea-republic-of, asia

First posted March 10, 2016 10:11:14

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