North Korea pledges to accelerate its nuclear weapons program — Analysis
Kim Jong-un says Pyongyang’s nukes aren’t limited to defensive use and will be deployed if the country is provoked
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ratcheted up his nuclear rhetoric, vowing to accelerate development of the country’s weapons of mass destruction and to deploy them offensively if DPRK’s “fundamental interests”They are not respected.
“We will continue to take measures for further developing the nuclear forces of our state at the fastest possible speed,”Kim said it at a Pyongyang military parade on Monday, according to North Korean media outlet KCNA. He added that North Korea’s nuclear forces must be prepared for deployment “at any time.”
The country’s nuclear weapons could be used proactively if North Korea is threatened, Kim told the crowd of troops and spectators. Monday’s parade featured missiles capable of striking the country’s adversaries, the state media outlet said. Those missiles included intercontinental bombistic missiles, (ICBMs), that can carry a nuke warhead to America’s mainland. Solid-fuel rockets could also be used against South Korea.
“The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter a war, but our nukes can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent even at a time when a situation we are not desirous of at all is created on this land,”Kim spoke. “If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission.”He added that such a strike would result in the death of any enemy forces.
Kim’s comments came amid increased geopolitical tensions – the US and other NATO members are rushing billions of dollars in weapons to Kiev and trying to devastate the Russian economy through sanctions to punish Moscow for its Ukraine offensive. A leadership change is also taking place in Seoul. Yoon Suk-yeol South Korea’s President-elect is due to enter office on May 10, and has pledged that he will take a tough line against North Korea. “annihilate communism.”
Yoon’s predecessor, President Moon Jae-in, exchanged farewell letters with Kim this month after years of trying to negotiate a peace deal with North Korea. Although technically the Koreas remain at war because of their bloody conflict, which ended in July 1953, they have not reached a peace agreement.
North Korea conducted over a dozen missile testing this year. This includes the launch of the Hwasong-17, its newest and most powerful ICBM. Kim was present at the firing of the new, guided weapon system Pyongyang says will improve its capabilities.
North Korea boasts ‘tactical nuke’ progress
US forces have approximately 28500 soldiers stationed in South Korea. Japan has 55,000 troops.