SEOUL — Kim Jong Il was elevated to the "highest post of the state" Saturday as the head of Communist North Korea's 1.1-million-strong military.
Kim, who has run the belligerent, Marxist state since the 1994 death of his father, longtime President Kim Il Sung, had been expected to be named president. Instead, the newly elected parliament enhanced the younger Kim's existing role and that of the military as North Korea's central authority.
The Supreme People's Assembly reelected Kim as chairman of the National Defense Commission, a post he has held since 1993, but boosted the power of the position with a constitutional amendment. The previous highest post, state president, was apparently abolished.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, officials confirmed a report by North Korea that it had fired a rocket carrying a satellite last week rather than a ballistic missile, Itar-Tass news agency said.
A U.S. intelligence official said Friday that the United States was making further checks and could not rule out that what the Pentagon maintained was a ballistic missile might in fact have been a rocket launching a satellite.