Defector: N Korea pushing to develop nukes 'at all costs' by 2017

Defector: N Korea pushing to develop nukes 'at all costs' by 2017
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The North Korean government is pushing to develop nuclear weapons "at all costs by the end of 2017," according to a high-ranking North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea.

"Due to domestic political procedures, North Korea calculates that South Korea and the US will not be able to take physical or military actions to deter North Korea's nuclear development," Thae Yong-ho, the former second highest North Korean diplomat at the embassy in London, told Yonhap News Agency, as reported by CNN.

During his first media appearance since he and his family defected in July, Thae said that North Korea is "racing ahead with nuclear development after setting up a plan to develop [nuclear weapons] at all costs by the end of 2017."

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He added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not be open to dismantle the nuclear program for any amount of money.

The former North Korean diplomat noted that Kim's geopolitical strategy toward the U.S. and South Korea is designed to encourage stability-focused policies toward the country.
"North Korea believes that relentless provocations must shift new [South Korean and U.S.] governments' policy lines into more stability-focused ones," Thae said according to the report.
 
In recent years, North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear program despite overwhelming sanctions and immense pressure from the international community.
 
The country is now believed to have several nuclear weapons that could pose a potential risk to the U.S. and its allies in the region.