North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took time out of his schedule to check out Pyongyang's solar-powered science and technology complex, designed to look like an atom to show off the regime's commitment to scientific development.
The leader visited the center earlier this week flanked as usual by a crew of generals and politicians, getting a first-hand look at the facility equipped with features like a laboratory and an earthquake experience room, according to a report from state-run news agency KCNA.
"Visiting the Ssuk Islet, an islet of science, everyone will know well about the validity and vitality of the policy of the WPK (Worker's Party of Korea) which has been constantly directing big efforts to the development of science and technology," Kim said of the facility, according to the KCNA, which often quotes Kim and other officials in approximatively translated English.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/KCNA)
The government claims that the complex runs on "natural energies," including solar and geothermal power.
According to North Korea-focused news blog NKNews, Kim has made multiple trips to the center, which was pushed to completion by bringing on the country's soldiers to lend a hand.
North Korea's scientific interests manifested slightly differently in September when the country said its main nuclear complex was operational and was working to improve the "quality and quantity" of its weapons, which the isolated regime could use against the United States at "any time."
[body_image src='//news-images.vice.com/images/2015/10/30/untitled-article-1446229942-body-image-1446230497.jpg' width='3969' height='2646'](Photo Credit: Reuters/KCNA)
The comments followed a declaration by the North in 2013 vowing to restart all nuclear facilities, including the main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon that had been shuttered. It marked the first acknowledgement since then that the plant, which has been the source of fissile material used in the country's atomic weapons program, is operational, Reuters reported.
"If the US and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the DPRK and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time," an official told KCNA, using the acronym for the full name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, revealed earlier this month that US intelligence suggests North Korea does have the capability to launch a nuclear weapon at the US. Gortney said American forces are prepared to counter such an attack.
"We're ready for him, and we're ready 24 hours a day if he should be dumb enough to shoot something at us," he said.