Nuclear-bomb plan to top agenda for North Korean parliament

After weeks of warlike posturing North Korea is holding its annual spring parliamentary session following a declaration that nuclear bomb building and a stronger economy were the nation's top priorities.

Nuclear-bomb plan to top agenda for North Korean parliament

After weeks of warlike posturing North Korea is holding its annual spring parliamentary session following a declaration that nuclear bomb building and a stronger economy were the nation's top priorities.

The meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly follows near-daily threats from Pyongyang, including vows of nuclear strikes on South Korea and the US.

Despite the continuing hostility on the peninsula, there has been a noticeable shift in North Korea's rhetoric to a message that seeks to balance efforts to turn around a moribund economy with nuclear development.

"There was a danger that this was getting to the point ... of a permanent war footing," said John Delury, a North Korea analyst at Seoul's Yonsei University.

"In the midst of this tension and militant rhetoric and posturing, Kim Jong Un is saying: 'Look, we're still focused on the economy, but we're doing it with our nuclear deterrent intact'."

Pyongyang has reacted angrily to routine US-South Korean military drills and a new round of sanctions that followed its February underground nuclear test, the country's third.

Leader Kim Jong Un Kim and top party officials adopted a declaration calling nuclear weapons the "the nation's life" and an important component of its defence, an asset that would not be traded even for "billions of dollars".

While analysts call North Korea's threats largely brinkmanship, there is some fear that a localised skirmish might escalate. Seoul has vowed to respond should North Korea provoke its military.

Naval skirmishes in disputed Yellow Sea waters off the Korean coast have led to bloody battles several times over the years. Attacks blamed on Pyongyang in 2010 killed 50 South Koreans.

Meanwhile deputies to North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly gathered in Pyongyang although the session's schedule was unclear.

Under late leader Kim Jong Il, North Korea had typically held a parliamentary meeting once a year. But Kim Jong Un held an unusual second session last September in a sign that he is trying to run the country differently from his father, who died in late 2011.

Parliament sessions, which usually are held to approve personnel changes and budget and fiscal plans, are scrutinized by the outside world for signs of key changes in policy and leadership.

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