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North Korean President Kim outlined new military goals at the main party meeting

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North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un has set new goals for his country’s military as the main meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party continues, state media reported on Wednesday.

The announcement, in a report by party leaders, indicates that Pyongyang’s sanctions-busting weapons tests will continue next year.

Kim is currently presiding over a major party meeting in the capital, Pyongyang, during which the supreme leader and other senior party officials outline their policy goals for 2023 in key areas including diplomacy, security and the economy.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday that Kim “has set new major goals for strengthening self-reliant defense capability to be pushed forward within 2023,” without elaborating.

The report “analyzed and assessed the new and challenging situation that has arisen on the Korean Peninsula,” the agency said, in an apparent reference to the recent sharp escalation in tensions between the North and the South.

The agency added that Kim made it clear that “our party must adhere to the direction of struggle against the enemy.”

North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year, including intercontinental ballistic missile launches, which are banned under United Nations sanctions.

Pyongyang has also ramped up tensions with Seoul, including firing artillery into maritime buffer zones and sending drones this week into South Korean airspace.

The five drones’ incursion — the first since 2017 — prompted Seoul to fire warning shots and deploy fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot them down.

The regime usually uses North Korea’s year-end meetings to unveil the country’s priorities, both domestically and abroad, for the coming year.

Full details of the ongoing plenary session are expected to be announced upon its conclusion later this week.

While Kim focused on the domestic economy at the 2021 event, analysts widely expect a shift in tone to highlight the military front this year, in light of growing hostility to the nuclear-armed North.

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