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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 250 (February 21, 2013)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

North Korea Celebrates 'Success' of Nuclear Test, Calling for Building Economic Power

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has held a series of massive rallies for citizens and soldiers in celebration of the "success" of its third underground nuclear test on Feb. 12 while issuing threats of retaliation against possible sanctions by the international community claiming that the test was a "just measure for self-defense."

   "The DPRK (North Korea)'s nuclear test is a just physical counteraction against the U.S., which prodded the UN Security Council into adopting 'resolution on sanctions' 2087 against the DPRK, thereby denying its legitimate right and seriously insulting the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Feb. 14, two days after the nuclear test, which invited a chorus of international condemnation and warnings of tougher sanctions against the North.

   "If the U.S. imperialists and the puppet warmongers make even the slightest provocation encroaching upon the sovereignty of the DPRK while calling for 'tightening sanctions,' its revolutionary armed forces will deal merciless and prompt annihilating blows to the aggressors by mobilizing all the offensive and defensive means, including a nuclear deterrence," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea said.

   The impoverished country also is calling for building up a strong domestic economy to cope with the possible economic sanctions.

   On the same day of that report, the country staged a huge rally in its capital Pyongyang to celebrate the nuclear test, hailing it as a "success," according to the North's media.

   Photos provided by the KCNA showed huge crowds cheering in celebration of the underground atomic test.

   It was the first nuclear test under young leader Kim Jong-un, who took the helm of North Korea in late 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il.

   Kim Jong-un did not appear at the rally, but Kim Ki-nam, a secretary of the ruling Workers' Party, told the crowd that the nuclear test was the result of the new leader's "resolute" decision, according to the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

   Describing the third test as a "splendid national achievement," the party secretary of propaganda said that the latest nuclear test was a "stern and fair self-defense measure to cope with a hostile policy by the U.S. towards North Korea."

   The third nuclear test "was achieved thanks to the Great Marshal Kim Jong-un's resolute decision," the party secretary said, adding that the leader "wisely led" the test.

   North Korea conducted two previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

   The KCNA also reported that on Feb. 18 similar rallies took place in North Phyongan, Jagang and South Hamgyong provinces, followed by rallies the next day in South Phyongan, South Hwanghae and Ryanggang provinces as well as in Nampho City.

   The North's official news outlet said citizens of Pyongyang and other cities throughout the country were overjoyed by the news.

   The KCNA said the successful nuclear test was produced by the iron faith and will and the matchless grit and pluck of Kim Jong-un. It was also the result of the efforts by the scientists, technicians, workers, soldiers and officials who have devotedly defended the party, the country and its people on the forefront for an all-out action against the U.S.

   It said scientists, technicians, workers, soldiers and officials who fully demonstrated the tremendous might of "the great Mt. Paektu nation" by successfully conducting the third underground nuclear test will, under the care of the Workers' Party of Korea, "spend significant days visiting Pyongyang, enjoying the greatest privileges and preferential treatment."

   Meanwhile, North Korean media have called for the creation of a strong economy as the international community debates slapping fresh sanctions on the belligerent country for conducting the nuclear test, observers said on Feb. 14.

   Local observers who keep track of news reports coming from the North said there has been growing emphasis on economic growth after the test.

   "The majority of the news outlets highlighted the successful test and the boost it has given to the country's nuclear deterrence capability, but articles focusing on the economy have started appearing," a media observer said.

   North Korean watchers said Rodong Sinmun and the KCNA have started linking the nuclear detonation to the economy.

   The daily said in an editorial that the nuclear test will create an advantageous environment for the construction of an economically powerful country and lead to the improvement of the lives of its people.

   "By securing the initiative from the imperialists, the detonation has opened the road to growth," the paper said. Pyongyang frequently uses the word imperialist to refer to the United States.

   It claimed that it will not take long for improvements in the lives of the North Korean people to become noticeable, but warned there will be an attempt by enemies to crush the country.

   The article said every effort must be made to use all indigenous resources to improve industrial activity in order to thwart outside measures to weaken the country.

   The KCNA also reported that ordinary workers across the country were buoyed by the success of the test and expect it to play a part in economic growth.

   The North has placed greater importance on the economy under Kim Jong-un than under Kim Jong-il.

   Related to the rise in coverage of the economy, experts in Seoul said the North may be bracing for hard times to come as the world contemplates sanctions for the banned nuclear test. The test carried out at the Punggye-ri test complex in the northeastern part of the country was in defiance of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution passed just three weeks earlier. That resolution condemned the launching of a long-range rocket on Dec. 12, 2012, and warned the North not to engage in further provocations.

   The UNSC is in the process of discussing what measures need to be taken to penalize the North for its actions, while countries like the United States and Japan may move to impose separate economic restrictions.

   "There has been speculation that Kim Jong-un may have backtracked on placing importance on the economy because of the nuclear test, but this probably is not the case," said Cho Bong-hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute.

   The analyst, however, said despite what Pyongyang may have intended with the test, it will probably feel the effect of global sanctions in such areas as trade and financial transactions.