Kim Jong Un hosts party for nuclear experts

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SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a massive celebration to congratulate his nuclear scientists and technicians who steered the country's sixth and largest nuclear test a week ago, its official news agency said yesterday.

South Korea had been bracing for another long-range missile launch in time for the 69th anniversary of North Korea's founding on Saturday, but no fresh provocations were spotted while the North held numerous events to mark the holiday.

KCNA said Mr Kim threw a banquet to laud the nuclear scientists and other top military and party officials who contributed to the Sept 9 nuclear test, the celebration was topped with an art performance and a photo session with the leader himself.

KCNA did not specify when the banquet had been held, but analysts said it had likely been on Saturday.

Photos released yesterday by KCNA showed the young leader breaking into a broad smile at the People's Theatre with two prominent scientists: Mr Ri Hong Sop, head of North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Institute, and Mr Hong Sung Mu, deputy director of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's Munitions Industry Department.

Mr Ri and Mr Hong have played vital roles in the North's nuclear programme, appearing at close distance to Mr Kim during field inspections and weapons tests. Their roles have also been noted overseas, prompting the United Nations, the United States and South Korea to blacklist them. - REUTERS

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