North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promoted his sister to a high-level government post, state media reported Sunday, praising the country’s nuclear weapons program, prompting an international alert.
Kim Jong-Yo is an alternate member of the party’s powerful Politburo, the ruling body chaired by his brother, according to the official KCNA news agency.
The promotion was announced with those of dozens of other senior officials at a party meeting led by the leader on Saturday.
It came as the regime faces mounting global pressure to curb its weapons after recent nuclear and missile tests.
Tensions rose as Kim exchanged verbal threats with US President Donald Trump, who tweeted Saturday that “one thing will work” to tame the isolated state of a nuclear military.
The sister, in her early twenties, was often seen with her brother in their “orientation study tours” and other events and is known to have attended party propaganda operations.
Both were born to former leader Kim Jong-Il and his third partner, former dancer Ko Yong-Hui.
The family has ruled North Korea since its inception in 1948. The current leader came to power after his father’s death in December 2011.
Since then, he has overseen four of the country’s six nuclear tests – the last time in September – as it consolidates its grip on power through a series of purges, including those involving its uncle and half brother.
Uncle Jang Song-Thaek was executed in 2013 for treason and half brother Kim Jong-Nam was killed by a toxic nerve agent during a Cold War assassination at a Kuala Lumpur airport. February.
North missile capabilities and nuclear weapons have made significant progress under current Kim despite the growing UN sanctions.
At the party meeting on Saturday, Mr. Kim admitted that the country faces “trials” in a “serious” situation, but said its economy had risen this year despite increasingly stringent sanctions.
He described the atomic weapons of the North as a “precious sword” to protect it from aggression.
“North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a valuable source of the bloody struggle of its people to defend the fate and sovereignty of the country against the prolonged nuclear threats of the US imperialists,” said M. Kim.