North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has praised his country's efforts to keep the virus at bay. Photo: AFP

Following about three weeks with no mentions of public appearances – and at a time when speculation about his possible illness or death has resumed – North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reports that Kim Jong Un has presided over a meeting of the Central Military Commission.

“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country,” KCNA says.

That elicited a tweet from Washington lawyer Edward Oh, who writes about North Korea and has been skeptical about hopes others have expressed that Kim will shift his focus from nuclear weaponry to reforming the economy thorugh such means as special economic zones:

“I guess when you declare your nuclear weapons as your ‘treasured sword’ and enshrine it in your constitution, it would probably be a misinterpretation of North Korea’s intentions to think there may be a chance they would bargain them away for the chance to build more SEZs,” said Oh.

The KCNA’s lead paragraph started the report in typical grandiose style:

“The Fourth Enlarged Meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) took place at a stirring time when the entire Party and the whole society are pushing ahead with the great revolutionary advance for glorifying this year marking the 75th founding anniversary of the WPK as a year of opening up an epoch-making phase in the path of the development of the Korean-style socialism, true to the line and policy for achieving prosperity by self-reliance set forth by the great Party.”

Continuing, KCNA said the meeting “was guided by Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the WPK.

“Attending the meeting were members of the WPK Central Military Commission, members of the Executive Committee of the Korean People’s Army Committee of the WPK, commanders and commissars of the services and corps of the Korean People’s Army, commanding officers of the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of People’s Security, the Guard Headquarters and other armed forces organs at all levels and vice directors of major departments of the WPK Central Committee.

“The meeting discussed important military steps and organizational and political measures to further bolster up the overall armed forces of the DPRK politically and ideologically and in military technique to be able to firmly defend the political stability and sovereignty of the country and reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces in view of the essential requirements to bring about further progress in developing the national defence capabilities and war deterrent under the internal and external situation created in the vital period in the development of our revolution, and dealt with an organizational matter.

“The meeting reviewed and analyzed a series of drawbacks in the military and political activities of the overall armed forces of the DPRK including the People’s Army, and discussed methodological issues for overcoming them and bringing about drastic improvement. Also discussed at the meeting were the issue of examining and setting right the unreasonable machinery and compositional defects and the core issues for further increasing the capabilities for militarily deterring the threatening foreign forces by rapidly increasing the self-reliant defence capabilities and organizing new units.

“The meeting stressed once again the tasks facing the different sectors to thoroughly carry out the revolutionary military line and policies of the party.

“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation in line with the general requirements for the building and development of the armed forces of the country.

“Taken at the meeting were crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces of the Korean People’s Army.

“The meeting elected a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the DPRK and recalled or by-elected some of its members. Ri Pyong Chol was elected as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK.”