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North Korea condemns 'barbarous' sanctions as fuel shortage remains in doubt

 North Korea Workers' Party cell chairs condemned the United States and sanctions against Pyongyang during the fifth conference of the leaders.
 North Korea’s Workers’ Party cell chairs convened in Pyongyang on Wednesday. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

The party personnels' statement comes at a time when analysts in South Korea say the Kim Jong Un regime could reach a peak burden period under current embargoes in the first half of 2018, South Korean news service News 1 reported Thursday.

Cell chairs of the party ultimately responsible for policies of the state ordered their divisions to "overcome" difficulties caused by international sanctions, according to Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

The newspaper also said the party slammed the United States "imperialists" and their followers.

"At present the U.S. imperialists and their followers are operating in parallel, the full deployment of nuclear assets and engagement with policies that could provoke nuclear war," the newspaper stated. "They are fooling around, adopting barbarous 'sanctions resolutions' while designating [North Korea] as a state sponsor of terror, then madly jumping around in order to destroy our right to development."

The Rodong added cell chairs were ordered to "continue to make great efforts" to make "battling organizations of steel, filled with the spirit of leader" Kim.

Hong Min, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said the sanctions have been "endured domestically" but North Korea may be struggling by the first half of 2018, according to News 1.

North Korea's experience with sanctions has often been conveyed to the public from defectors, including reports of long gas lines in Pyongyang and other parts of the country.

A new study published with the Beyond Parallel project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., however, indicates any fuel shortages were not lasting.
Analysts Joseph Bermudez and Lisa Collins stated Thursday satellite imagery indicates fluctuations in the gasoline supply cannot be confirmed, nor it it determined shortages had "any long-lasting effects" on vehicle activity in the country.

The study examines six facilities around Pyongyang, using images taken between April and November 2017.

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