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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Says Nuclear Might Sealed Deal With South

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POCHEON, South Korea — Nuclear weapons secured the deal with South Korea and ended a dangerous military standoff, according to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Putting his own spin on the accord reached Monday after marathon all-night talks, the pact “was by no means something achieved on the negotiating table, but thanks to the tremendous military muscle with the nuclear deterrent for self-defense,” Kim told a meeting of the his Central Military Commission, according to a report Friday by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

North Korea is believed to have a handful of nuclear warheads but not the technology to launch them long distances.

Kim reportedly called the accord a “landmark occasion,” paving the way for improved relations — he also sacked several top military officials.In reality, the deal was a triumph of mutual pragmatism over mutual loathing. It didn’t prevent the U.S. and South Korea pressing ahead this week with joint military exercises, described by one South Korean official as the biggest of their type the allies have ever held.

NBC News was invited Monday to witness a live-fire drill held near the town of Pocheon, 15 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (or DMZ) that runs along the rivals’ border.

Some 4,000 members of the public were invited to witness the event. They sat in a makeshift grandstand on a hillside above the vast valley, waving flags and cheering every massive bang and boom.

Fighter jets swooped in and artillery was unleashed, pounding targets dotted across the landscape and shaking the earth on impact.

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