North Korea star newsreader back to announce nuclear test


Pyongyang (AFP)

North Korea deployed its most trusted newsreader on Friday to herald the success of its fifth nuclear test on state television.

The special broadcast was aired at around 1:00 pm Pyongyang time (0430 GMT) without prior notice, coming a few hours after South Korea said its neighbour had conducted another nuclear test.

Wearing her trademark pink and black traditional Korean dress, veteran announcer Ri Chun-Hee smiled as she told viewers of KCTV -- and the world -- that the latest test had put the North's nuclear programme on a "higher level".

Using the country's full, formal name -- Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) -- Ri said the test confirmed the country was capable of producing a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on strategic ballistic missiles.

"The standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable the DPRK to produce at will... a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power," she intoned.

The star announcer -- believed to be in her early 70s -- has appeared whenever North Korea wants to boast of its latest achievements or needs to make an important announcement.

Ri was chosen to announce the deaths of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il.

In Friday's three-minute broadcast, which followed a propaganda film on the life of Kim Il-Sung, Ri said the North stood ready to "retaliate against the enemies".

"We will take further measures to bolster the state's nuclear force in quality and quantity for safeguarding the dignity and the right to existence of the DPRK, and genuine peace from the US's increasing threats of a nuclear war," Ri thundered.

The broadcast was North Korea's first official confirmation of its fifth nuclear test.

Pyongyang was unusually prompt with uploading both the Korean and English versions of the statement on its state-run KCNA news agency, which was provided just 10 minutes after the broadcast ended.