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North Korean leader ends key meeting, orders strengthening of 'war deterrent'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holds the Third Enlarged Meeting of Eighth Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang. (Photo by Reuters)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has wrapped up a key meeting with top military officials, ordering the country's defense capabilities to be strengthened. 

According to official KCNA media on Friday, Kim presided over the three-day Enlarged Meeting of the 8th Central Military Commission.

Top officials, it said, "approved an important issue of providing a military guarantee for further strengthening the country's war deterrent".

The high-caliber meeting came in the wake of the recent muscle-flexing by the US and South Korea, marked by their first joint war games in four years. 

During the meeting, North Korea made a rare mention of revising its war plans, and said it had decided to bolster the operational duties of its frontline units with "an important military action plan".

Kim called for his entire army to “go all out” in carrying out plans to bolster the nation’s military muscle and consolidate “powerful self-defense capabilities for overwhelming any hostile forces and thus reliably protect the dignity of the great country”.

Tensions are simmering on the Koran Peninsula following joint naval exercises off Okinawa, with the participation of a US aircraft carrier and South Korean destroyers. The US and Japan conducted a separate drill, flying warplanes above waters in the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier this month, China and Russia said the United States is fueling tensions after they vetoed a US-led push for tougher sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations. 

Tension on the Korean Peninsula has “developed to what it is today, primarily due to the flip flop of US policies,” said China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun.

The situation has further been aggravated by harsh rhetoric expressed by new South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol who is following a confrontational approach toward the North. 

The US and its allies say Pyongyang could conduct its first nuclear test in five years at "any time" now.

North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles this year, including massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), new hypersonic missiles, and a short-range missile potentially designed for tactical nuclear weapons.

North Korea maintains that its weapons tests are a defensive measure against threats posed by the presence of US forces near its territorial waters and the holding of joint war games with South Korea.

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