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North Korea celebrates nuclear test

SEOUL: Residents of the North Korean capital have held a mass rally to hail the country’s second nuclear test as a defensive measure against 
“vicious” US hostility, state media said Wednesday.

The event was held Tuesday in Pyongyang, a day after the underground nuclear test in the northeast. The blast was several times more powerful than the first in October 2006, which was also marked by celebratory rallies.

Choe Thae-Bok, a senior official of the ruling communist party, said US military threats and economic sanctions prompted the North to conduct the second test.

It “was a grand undertaking to protect the supreme interests of the DPRK (North Korea) and defend the dignity and sovereignty of the country and nation in face of the US imperialists’ unabated threat to mount a preemptive nuclear attack and sanctions and pressure upon it,” Choe was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency as telling the gathering.

“The situation of the country is growing tenser,” he said, blaming the “vicious hostile policy” pursued by the US, Japan and South Korea’s conservative government.

“But the army and the people of the DPRK with the strong nuclear deterrent for self-defence will make steady advance along the road of independence,” said Choe, secretary of the Workers’ Party central committee.

The news agency gave no attendance figure for the rally at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium.

Analysts have said the North’s ailing leader Kim Jong-Il went ahead with the test to shore up support for his regime, and public rallies would confirm such a motive.

Minju Joson, newspaper of the North’s cabinet, described the US rush for sanctions as “ludicrous.”

“Nothing is going to change as long as the US doesn’t change its hostile, rejective innate tendency toward us,” the paper said.

“It is a ludicrous idea for the US to think that it can defeat us by sanctions. We have been living under US sanctions for decades…the US hostile policy towards us is like beating a rock with a rotten egg.”

Choe also promoted the 150-day campaign, the North’s latest effort to raise productivity. The regime is trying to build “a great, prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung.

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