Kim Jong Un's top men in nuke development revealed

By Jennie Oh  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 2:49 AM
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SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un appears to have reshuffled his circle of top men in nuclear and missile development.

The North's state media Korea Central New Agency revealed that a two-day arms industry conference attended by leader Kim Jong Un also saw the turnout of key figures in the weapon-building industry.

The spotlight was on vice chairman of the Workers' Party's Central Committee Thae Jong Su, who reportedly was the first to deliver a speech as the convention kicked off.

This indicates he is in charge of the ruling Workers' Party's Machine-Building Industry Department, Yonhap News reported.

In October, he was appointed vice chairman of the party's committee, as well as director, but it was unclear which department he had assumed.

Another key party official, No Kwang Chol, also attended the conference, seemingly as the new head of the "Second Economic Committee." South Korean media believe he was instated earlier this year over the party committee, which mobilizes funds for the defense industry and controls all arms-related factories.

No is among the individuals sanctioned by the South Korean government.

Also, sitting on either side of Kim at the convention were his top missile scientists, Jang Chang Ha, president of the DPRK Academy of Defense Science and Lt. Gen. Jon Il Ho. The two directed the launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile at the site of the test last month, according to Yonhap.

A video clip released by KNCA shows the two men bowing to Kim, then listening to him intently.

However, their direct superiors, Ri Pyong Chol, one of the North's most prominent figures in arms development, and rocket scientist Ki Jong Sik were nowhere to be seen. The four of them had been dubbed as the "Missile Club of Four" by the South Korean media.

Other notable appearances include deputy directors of the Workers' Party's munitions department Hong Sung Mu and Hong Yong Chil, who are known to have direct command over research and development.

The so-called veterans of nuclear and missile development, Pak To Chun and Ju Kyu Chang, who are now retired from their posts in the Workers' Party, appear to have been invited to the conference based on their past contributions.

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