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North Korea stays quiet on party anniversary

Oct. 10 (UPI) — North Korea refrained from provocations on Tuesday, the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party, but experts say they are not ruling out long-range missile tests.

Pyongyang’s decision to observe the holiday without provocations comes a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the military must “stand ready” to deal with the North Korean regime.

South Korea news service News 1 reported Tuesday U.S. and South Korea militaries on the peninsula had reinforced surveillance assets in order to monitor North Korea military movements.

The measure was taken because Seoul and Washington had determined there was a possibility North Korea would conduct a provocation, including a ballistic missile launch, on the key anniversary.

North Korea has engaged in provocations on or around major national holidays.

A few days before Sept. 9, the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean republic, Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The Kim Jong Un regime has also displayed its weapons on April 15, the birth anniversary of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung.

South Korean analyst Yang Uk, senior fellow at Korea Defense and Security Forum, told News 1 North Korea would not use “imperfect timing” to engage in a demonstration of its nuclear or missile capabilities.

“There is no need to focus too much on anniversaries,” Yang said.

Heavy economic sanctions may also be taking a toll on the country and the North Korean leadership could be trying to turn its focus on economic welfare.

Kim made a civilian-related visit in September, praising teachers who work in remote areas of the country.

Mattis on Monday said the United States’ North Korea strategy is “right now diplomatically led, economic sanctioned, buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off its path.”

But the defense secretary also said “neither you nor I can say” what will happen to the regime in the future, CBS reported Monday.

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