Kim's No 1 son confirms succession of little brother Kim Jong Un

The oldest son of Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s supreme leader, has given the first confirmation that his youngest brother is to inherit power in the isolated dictatorship, even as its Government is threatening pre-emptive nuclear attack against any infringements of its “dignity and sovereignty”.
Months of rumours and speculation were confirmed today when Kim Jong Nam, the first son of the country’s “Dear Leader”, told Japanese television that his half-brother, Kim Jong Un, 26, had been designated heir apparent.
“I hear the news by media. I think it’s true,” Mr Kim told the Japanese television station TV Asahi in an interview recorded in the Chinese enclave of Macau, where he is a regular visitor. “[it] is my father’s decision, so once he decides we have to support . . .
“I hope he can do his best for North Korean people for their happiness and better life.”
Mr Kim added: “I cannot tell what kind of person is my brother. Just I can say it’s my brother. My father loves very much my brother as his son.”
He denied rumours circulating among Asian diplomats that people close to him in North Korea have been purged, and said that he had no personal interest in power. “Sorry, I’m not interested in politics,” he said.
At 37, Kim Jong Nam is the oldest of the Dear Leader’s three sons by two different mothers. In 2001 he was humiliated after being detained in Japan while attempting to visit Tokyo Disneyland on a forged passport. He has also been spotted in Paris, Beijing and most often recently in Macao, the Chinese gambling enclave.
The succession in the world’s most closed and isolated nuclear-armed state had been a subject of intense speculation since Kim Jong Il suffered an apparent stroke last year.
It seems possible that the recent nuclear tests, and the continuing escalation of official rhetoric, are intended at whipping up support and enthusiasm for the Government at a time of uncertainty and transition.
For the first time since the emergence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme 15 years ago, the state media referred to it yesterday as an offensive, rather than merely defensive, weapon.
“Our nuclear deterrent will be a strong defensive means . . . as well as a merciless offensive means to deal a just retaliatory strike to those who touch the country’s dignity and sovereignty even a bit,” said an opinion article on the Korean Central News Agency.
“It is the revolutionary spirit of the army and people and the mode of counter-action for self-defence to decisively wipe out the aggressors,” it continued, promising “the toughest measures and . . . pre-emptive attack with the advanced pre-emptive strikes”.
The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour after crossing North Korea’s border with China, today begged Pyongyang to release them. “We ask the Government of North Korea to show compassion and grant Laura and Euna clemency and allow them to return home to their families,” the relatives said in a statement.
“We think the imprisonment, trial and sentencing of Laura and Euna should be viewed as a humanitarian matter,” Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said. “We hope that the North Koreans will grant clemency and deport them.”
Mrs Clinton has promised “significant action” against Pyongyang, but there is still no clear indication what form this will take.
“The character of North Korea’s behaviour is a fairly familiar pattern of doing something outrageous and then expecting to be paid for stopping doing it,” Dennis Blair,, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, said in a speech in Washington late yesterday.
“Overlaid on that are the succession concerns of the current leader. He had a stroke last summer and recently designated his son as his successor . . . any time you have a combination of this behaviour, doing provocative things in order to excite a response, plus succession questions, you have a potentially dangerous mixture.”
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