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North Korea amassing nukes to avoid the fate of Libya, Iraq: Writer

This file photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) taken on August 29, 2017 and released on August 30, 2017 shows North Korea's intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting off from the launching pad at an undisclosed location near Pyongyang.

North Korea is building up a formidable nuclear arsenal in order to avoid the fate of Libya and Iraq, an American writer and retired professor says.

James Petras, who has written dozens of books on international issues, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on North Korea’s claims that it tested a hydrogen bomb earlier this month.

North Korea on September 3 announced it had conducted a “successful” hydrogen bomb test, hours after two tremors were detected in the country.

The United States had previously declined to characterize the test. But on Thursday, the US general in charge of America's nuclear forces confirmed that it was a hydrogen bomb.

"I'm not a nuclear scientist, so I can't tell you this is how it worked, this is what the bomb was. ... But I can tell you the size that we observed and saw tends to me to indicate that it was a hydrogen bomb and I have to figure out what the right response is with our allies as to that kind of event,” Air Force General John Hyten, head of the US military's Strategic Command, told reporters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

'North Korea prepares for retaliation against US' 

“North Korea has built up a very powerful arsenal that prepares for retaliation if there is an American attack. And this is a response to the threats from the US government to bomb North Korea," Professor Petras said. 

“So I think while the weapons are formidable and threatening, they are largely an effort to secure a definitive end to the Korean War,” he added.

“The US has refused to negotiate with North Korea, refused to adopt a diplomatic approach. And I think the result is North Korea feels threatened. They don’t want to cast the same experience as in Libya and in Iraq where they dismantled their military defenses and were subsequently invaded,” he said.

“So I think one has to put everything in perspective. North Korea is threatened. Washington has openly applied sanctions,” the analyst said. 

“And I think if they want to avoid North Korea building a hydrogen bomb or developing it further, they must sit down and agree to negotiate a permanent settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” Professor Petras concluded.

The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military tensions since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice. No peace deal has been signed, meaning the two Koreas remain technically at war. The US was an ally of South Korea during the war.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un ordered the production of more rocket warheads and engines last month, shortly after the United States suggested that its threats of military action and sanctions were having an impact on Pyongyang’s behavior.

Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.

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