North Korea says to push nuclear program, defying UN sanctions

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What's Changing in North Korea?

PYONGYANG, May 9 (Reuters) - North Korea said it will strengthen self-defensive nuclear weapons capability in a decision adopted at a congress of its ruling Workers' Party congress, its KCNA news agency reported on Monday, in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

Isolated North Korea has come under tightening international pressure over its nuclear weapons program, including tougher U.N. sanctions adopted in March backed by lone major ally China, following its most recent nuclear test in January.

SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un: We won't nuke you unless threatened

The decision formalizes a position previously held by North Korea, which declared itself "a responsible nuclear weapons state" and disavowed the use of nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is first infringed by others with nuclear arms.

"We will consistently take hold on the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and boost self-defensive nuclear force both in quality and quantity as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat and arbitrary practices," KCNA said of the congress decision.

RELATED: North Korean children perform for Congress

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North Korean children perform for congress
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North Korea says to push nuclear program, defying UN sanctions
A girl salutes to visitors before a show at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. Pyongyang held a gala of song and dance performances by local school children on May 5 for visiting delegations of foreign journalists and tourists at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace. The event included orchestral, choir, and acrobatic performances, many of them with political undertones. The Seventh Worker's Party Congress commences on May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj SEARCH "DAMIR CHILDREN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Spectators wait for the beginning of a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Children wave to spectators as the curtain is brought down at the end of a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A member of staff looks from the balcony inside the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Girls practice dancing at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Girls play guitars at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Children wave to spectators as the curtain is brought down at the end of a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Girls are wheeled on a sliding platform to the stage at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A girl plays the guitar at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Spectators watch a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Students practice dance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A member of staff and spectators watch a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Spectators watch a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Students draw at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Children acknowledge the audience after performing on the stage of the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A teacher gives instructions to a student practicing dance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A member of staff looks from the balcony inside the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A rocket is projected on the screen as girls perform at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Spectators wait for the beginning of a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Girls perform on the stage of the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A model of a rocket is placed inside the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Spectators clap hands during a performance at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A guide leads visitors towards the Mangyongdae Children's Palace decorated with pictures of former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in central Pyongyang, North Korea May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
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The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea regularly threatens the South and its major ally, the United States, which it accuses of planning a nuclear attack.

The congress is the first to be held in 36 years amid anticipation by the South Korean government and experts that leader Kim Jong Un will use it to further consolidate power. Kim became leader in 2011 after his father's sudden death.

SEE ALSO: Images show possible preparations for N. Korea nuclear test

Since the latest round of U.N. resolutions, North Korea has continued to engage in nuclear and missile development, and claimed that it had succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead and launching a submarine-based ballistic missile.

MYSTERY TOUR

South Korea condemned the North's claim to being a nuclear weapons state, saying it would continue to exert pressure on Pyongyang until it abandons its nuclear ambitions.

North Korea is believed by western experts to have about 40 kilograms of plutonium, enough to build eight to 12 nuclear weapons.

Foreign journalists issued visas to cover the congress have yet to be granted access to the proceedings, which began on Friday and include 3,467 voting delegates meeting in the enormous April 25 House of Culture. A closing date has not been made public but South Korea officials expect it to last four or five days.

On Monday, visiting media were taken to a textile factory named after Kim Jong Suk, the wife of state founder Kim Il Sung and the grandmother of the current leader. They have also been taken to a maternity hospital, electric cable factory and children's center - model sites that are also on tourist itineraries.

At the textile factory, workers were urged on in their labor by propaganda music and slogans on wall-mounted placards.

SEE ALSO: Obama urges scrutiny of Trump's record: 'This is not entertainment'

"Lets open the heyday of building a powerful prosperous nation in this year of the Seventh Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea!", one of the signs said.

During the weekend, Kim took a conciliatory position on ties with the South, saying military talks were needed to discuss ways to ease tensions.

South Korea rejected the proposal as meaningless.

"We have not given up on dialog," Unification Ministry spokesman Cheong Joon-hee told a briefing on Monday. "But it is only when the North shows sincerity about denuclearisation that genuine dialog is possible."

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