PYONGYANG – The leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un hosted a military meeting to discuss new policies to bolster the country’s nuclear capabilities amid stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States, state media KCNA reported on Sunday.
The meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s powerful Central Military Commission marked Kim Jong-un’s first public appearance in three weeks. He made an unusually small number of outings in the past two months, allegedly due to coronavirus concerns, according to US medial outlets’ claims.
North Korea has imposed strict anti-coronavirus measures, although it has announced it has no confirmed cases. The appearance followed intense Western media speculation about Kim Jong-un’s health last month after he missed a key anniversary.
US-led negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have made little progress since late last year, especially after the global lockdown due to the coronavirus was imposed.
“The meeting discussed measures to bolster armed forces and reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces”, KCNA said, adding, “Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation.”
“Taken at the meeting were crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces,” it reported.
Kim Jong-un himself has kept a low profile since the coronavirus pandemic spread, igniting heightened speculations about the leader’s own health after he missed a key national anniversary. Kim Jong-un has appeared publicly four times in April and so far in May, compared with 27 times in the same period last year.