N Korea test 'linked to succession'

Nuclear test to win military backing for Kim Jong-il's successor, says report.

    Kim Jong Il is said to have conducted the test to secure military backing of a succession plan [EPA]

    Kim's succession as leader in 1994 after the death of his father, North Korea's founding president, Kim Il-sung, marked the first-ever hereditary power transfer in a communist regime.
     
    The report, commissioned by the parliamentary committee and prepared by a South Korea think-tank, said the "fundamental task" that North Korea needed to address was "not to overcome economic difficulties or establish diplomatic relations or a peace treaty with the US".
     
    Instead, the report's authors said, North Korea sees its top priority as stabilising its leadership system by completing the process of designating the next leader.
     
    It added that the military had been pressing the North Korean leader to carry out the country's first nuclear test.
     
    The test was caried out on October 9.
     
    Decision
     
    Although the report did not say which of Kim's sons was likely to take over the leadership, it predicted a decision in the first half of 2007 followed by a gradual transfer of power.
     
    Referring to ongoing international disarmament talks in Beijing, the report said that North Korea was not likely to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme anytime soon and would focus on the succession.
     
    Whilst it said Pyongyang would most likely avoid returning to its boycott of the talks, the report added that the North saw "appropriate tensions" with the outside world as being good for promoting domestic unity.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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