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North Korea threatens to build more nuclear weapons amid US ‘hostility’

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal as he disclosed a list of high-tech weapons systems under development, saying the fate of relations with the US depends on whether it abandons its “hostile” policy, state media reported.

Mr Kim’s comments during a key meeting of the ruling party were seen as applying pressure on the incoming administration of Joe Biden, who has called Mr Kim a “thug” and has criticised his summits with Donald Trump.

The Korean Central News Agency quoted Mr Kim as saying the “key to establishing new relations between (North Korea) and the United States is whether the United States withdraws its hostile policy”.

Mr Kim said he will not use his nuclear weapons first unless threatened. He also suggested he is open to dialogue if Washington is, but stressed North Korea must further strengthen its military and nuclear capability to cope with intensifying US hostility.

Joe Biden (Susan Walsh/AP)

He again called the US his country’s “main enemy”.

“Whoever takes office in the US, its basic nature and hostile policy will never change,” he said.

Mr Biden, who will take office on January 20, is unlikely to hold direct meetings with Mr Kim unless the North Korean leader takes significant denuclearisation steps.

Mr Kim did not cite any specific provocative US actions. North Korea has previously called regular US military drills with South Korea an invasion rehearsal, though the allies have repeatedly denied that.

The North Korean leader listed sophisticated weapons systems he said were under development, including a multi-warhead missile, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, solid-fuelled long-range missiles and spy satellites.

He said Pyongyang must also advance the precision attack capability on targets in 15,000-kilometre (9,320-mile) range – an apparent reference to the US mainland – and develop technology to manufacture smaller nuclear warheads to be mounted on long-range missiles more easily.

“The reality is that we can achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula when we constantly build up our national defence and suppress US military threats,” Mr Kim said.

It is unclear if North Korea is capable of developing such systems. It is one of the world’s most cloistered countries, and estimates on the status of its nuclear and missile programmes vary widely. In 2018, the South Korean government said North Korea was estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons.

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Iran

Some regional countries lost four years depending on Trump

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Some regional countries lost four years depending on Trump

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks on Friday, noting that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always sought to have friendly relations with Persian Gulf littoral states.

“This region belongs to all of us and its security is in the interest of all of us,” he added.

He expressed the readiness of the Islamic Republic to hold talks with regional countries, underlining that Iranian officials have repeatedly suggested holding dialogue with Persian Gulf countries.

He went on to say that a number of regional countries lost four years depending on the former US President Donald Trump.

“Countries of the Persian Gulf must know that they and Iran will stay in this region and Trump will be gone,” he maintained.

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Iran

Iranian Army’s Air Force enjoying unique UAV capabilities

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Iranian Army's Air Force enjoying unique UAV capabilities

“The Army’s Air Force has conducted all its missions perfectly so far, and today, it has turned into a unique power in the filed of UAVs and drones,” The top commander said during a visit to Air Force units in the southern city of Bandar Abbas on Thursday.

“The force has been developing its capabilities in all areas, including commanding and overhauls and building shelters,” Major General Mousavi said.

The Iranian Army’s Air Force has been following a series of plans to promote its combat capabilities, including employing drones, in addition to the regular manned jets.

Earlier in January, Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, a high-ranking Army commander, said Iranian Army experts have dramatically increased the flight endurance of suicide UAVs, manufacturing drones with an operational range of 4,000 kilometers.

Iranian military technicians have in recent years made great headways in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the arms sphere.

Tehran has always assured other nations that its military might poses no threat to regional countries, saying that the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine is entirely based on deterrence.

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Iran

Iran gas flaring zero by March 2023: Zanganeh

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Iran gas flaring zero by March 2023: Zanganeh

Addressing a ceremony to launch Persian Gulf Bidboland Gas Refinery on Thursday, Zangeneh said the country would generate $1.5 billion/year by the project.

This is the 11th petrochemical project which has come online in Iran since last March.

Plans were underway to launch 17 petrochemical projects with 11.4 billion dollars of investment in the country during the current Iranian calendar year which began on March 21 of which 11 have so far come on stream.

Once fully operational, the 17 projects will add 25 million tons to the country’s annual production capacity.

He said the first Bidboland gas refinery is the source of Iran’s gas industry. “With the commissioning of this refinery and the daily refining capacity of about 25 million cubic meters and the operation of the first national pipeline in 1971, the gas industry in Iran was formed and born.”

The Minister of Petroleum stated that by March 2023, no gas will be flared in Iran and more than 95% of the collected associated gases will be consumed.

Zangeneh announced that the 3200 NGL project would come online next calendar year and by exploiting it, all the gases of the West Karun region will be sent to Bandar Imam after collection and processing.

He added that NGL 3100 plant would come online the following year along with a petrochemical plant with 1 million tons of annual production capacity in Dehloran.

Noting that the Persian Gulf Bidboland refinery has the capacity to produce 3.5 million tons of ethane, butane, propane and pentane plus, he said, adding the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) has been entrusted with another project to collect associated gases with $1.1b of investment.

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