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Kim Jong Un orders 80-day push for economic development

Kim Jong Un called for an 80-day campaign to meet economic development goals, North Korea state media reported on Tuesday. Photo by KCNA
Kim Jong Un called for an 80-day campaign to meet economic development goals, North Korea state media reported on Tuesday. Photo by KCNA

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a meeting of the ruling Worker's Party politburo and called for a "dynamic 80-day campaign of the entire party, the whole country and all the people" that would see the communist state reach economic and other development goals, state-run media reported Tuesday.

Kim pointed to an upcoming party congress in January as the deadline for meeting five-year plans adopted in 2016 and urged an "all-out campaign" to meet the goals.

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"The remaining days till the Eighth Congress of the Party is the period of year-end struggle and also the last phase of carrying out the five-year strategy for national economic development...so that the entire party and the whole country should wage another all-out campaign," Kim said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Kim said the country had overcome "unprecedentedly grave trials and difficulties this year," but noted that there were still "many goals we have to attain within this year."

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North Korea was battered by a series of typhoons over the summer and has faced economic disruption after closing its borders in January to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Punishing international sanctions have also remained in place since December 2017, following nuclear and long-range missile tests by Pyongyang.

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The KCNA report did not name specific development goals. Kim has made several public appearances in recent weeks, overseeing reconstruction work in areas that were damaged by flooding from a trio of typhoons that struck North Korea in August and September.

In July, Kim "severely rebuked" officials responsible for the construction of a major new hospital in Pyongyang, criticizing them for economic mismanagement and calling for their firing.

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The politburo also discussed a military parade scheduled to be held on Saturday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Worker's Party, with Kim saying the country is "faced with a heavy and responsible task to grandly hold the celebrations."

Many observers will be keeping a close eye on the parade, with signs indicating that North Korea is preparing to unveil new military hardware.

Satellite imagery recently revealed a launcher and carrier large enough to hold an intercontinental ballistic missile and analysts have speculated that North Korea may show off a new solid-fuel missile, which would be easier to transport and quicker to fire than the country's current liquid-fuel version

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Analysts and South Korean officials have also suggested that North Korea could test a submarine-launched ballistic missile around the anniversary date.

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At the end of 2019, Kim Jong Un warned of a "new strategic weapon" that would be coming soon. Pyongyang conducted a series of shorter-range missile and rocket tests in March and April of this year, but it is unclear how much the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors impacted the country's plans.

Nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled since a summit with Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump held in Hanoi, Vietnam, last year failed to produce an agreement.

On Saturday, the North Korean leader sent condolences to Trump following the president's COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization.

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