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North Korea suggests it may resume ICBM, nuclear tests

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North Korea suggests it may resume ICBM, nuclear tests
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggested that he may lift a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests, state-run media reported Thursday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said it was time to "examine the issue of restarting all temporally suspended activities" in an apparent reference to lifting a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear weapons tests, state media reported on Thursday.

Kim made the remarks at a Wednesday meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers' Party, which was convened after a flurry of short-range missile tests and a new round of sanctions from Washington.

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"Assessing that the hostile policy and military threat by the U.S. have reached a danger line that can not be overlooked any more... [the politburo] unanimously recognized that we should make more thorough preparation for a long-term confrontation with the U.S. imperialists," Kim said, according to state-run Korea Central News Agency.

The North Korean leader called for "bolstering more powerful physical means" and said that Pyongyang would "promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporally suspended activities."

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North Korea has not tested an intercontinental ballistic missile or nuclear weapon since 2017, marking the beginning of a period of renewed detente with Seoul and Washington that led to a number of high-profile diplomatic summits.

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Talks have stalled out since a February 2019 meeting between Kim and then-U.S. President Donald Trump ended without an agreement on a path toward denuclearization, however.

While North Korea has maintained its pause on nuclear and ICBM tests, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency reported in August that North Korea had restarted the nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon research facility after more than 2 1/2 years.

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Pyongyang also unveiled a new ICBM at a military parade in October 2020, which it has never test-launched.

North Korea has conducted four short-range missile tests since the beginning of the new year, including a pair of launches of what it claims is a hypersonic weapons system.

Washington sanctioned five North Korean individuals with ties to the country's missile program last week and called for a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting, expected to be held Thursday, to discuss further sanctions.

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On Friday, North Korea responded sharply to the new sanctions, warning of a "stronger reaction" and accusing the administration of President Joe Biden of remaining "engrossed in its policy for isolating and stifling" the North.

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