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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday called the United States his country's "biggest enemy" and pushed to continue expanding North Korea's arsenal, according to text of his remarks at the Workers' Party Congress meeting published by state media.
Why it matters: Kim's comments come days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
North Korea unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade on Saturday night, though it is unclear whether the weapon is functional or built for show, according to the New York Times.
Why it matters: If it does work, analysts say it would be North Korea's largest long-range missile to date, potentially able to fly further and carry a more powerful nuclear warhead than the country's previous ICBMs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apologized Friday for the death of a South Korean official who was killed while seemingly attempting to defect to the North by sea, AP reports.
Why it matters: It's a rare bout of humility from Kim toward his neighbor to the south, and could de-escalate rising tensions between the two nations — at least for the time being.
75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts believe the risk of the use of a nuclear weapon is as high now as it has been since the Cuban missile crisis.
The big picture: Nuclear war remains the single greatest present threat to humanity — and one that is poised to grow as emerging technologies, like much faster missiles, cyber warfare and artificial intelligence, upset an already precarious nuclear balance.
Why it matters: North Korea is wiping out all remnants of the detente with South Korea that began in 2018, and taking dramatic symbolic steps to signal a new more hostile era in relations. Pyongyang has also said it will resume military exercises and reestablish guard posts near the heavily fortified border.
White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the U.S. government will likely impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong and China if Beijing moves ahead with a proposed national security law for Hong Kong that could constrain the special region's autonomy.
Why it matters: O'Brien said the U.S. could revoke a special status that allows Hong Kong to function as an international financial hub, stating that it's "hard to see" how the financial community can remain in the city if the law is enacted.
North and South Korean troops exchanged fire across the Demilitarized Zone on Sunday. The South Korean military suffered no casualties, and officials said it’s unlikely that North Korea had any casualties, according to AP.
Why it matters: It's the first violent confrontation between the two countries on the border since 2017, and it comes after weeks of conflicting reports about the health of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un’s status remains a mystery after a week of rumors about the North Korean dictator’s health and chatter in Washington about succession.
Why it matters: “This should be a huge reminder of how much regional stability rests on this one leader,” says Jung Pak, a former CIA officer and author of the forthcoming book “Becoming Kim Jong-un.”
Kim Jong-un's sister said Sunday that President Trump sent a personal letter to the North Korean leader offering cooperation to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak, according to AP.
Why it matters: Though the North Korean government has yet to report a single case of the new virus within its borders, international experts doubt the claim and fear that an outbreak there would topple the country's poor medical infrastructure and become a humanitarian disaster.