- Kim Jong Un promised to expand his nuclear forces at “maximum speed” and warned to use them if provoked, according to state media.
- Disagreements over the potential lifting of US-led sanctions in exchange for North Korean disarmament steps have halted nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang since 2019.
In a speech delivered during a military display that showed a long-range missile and other weaponry, North Korean leader Kim Jong promised to expand his nuclear forces at “maximum speed” and warned to use them if provoked, according to state media.
His comments imply that he will pursue provocative weapons tests in an effort to compel concessions from the US and other adversaries. The parade, which took place Monday night to commemorate the 90th anniversary of North Korea’s army — the backbone of the Kim family’s authoritarian control — comes as the country grapples with pandemic-related problems and seeks respite from US-led sanctions imposed over its nuclear ambitions.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim told his troops and the public gathered for the parade in a Pyongyang plaza, “We will continue to implement measures aimed at strengthening and growing our country’s nuclear forces at the maximum pace.”
“Our nuclear forces’ core goal is to discourage war,” Kim added, “but if an adverse circumstance arises on our soil, our nuclear forces cannot be limited to a sole mission of preventing war.” “If any forces, no matter who they are, attempt to encroach on our core interests, our nuclear forces will have no choice but to carry out their unanticipated second mission.”
According to KCNA, the parade included marching troops and a variety of sophisticated weapons, including a missile capable of reaching the United States’ homeland, as well as tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, and multiple rocket launchers.
In recent months, Kim has resurrected nuclear brinkmanship in an attempt to persuade the US to recognise North Korea as a nuclear power and lift severe economic sanctions.
North Korea, according to analysts, is taking advantage of a favourable atmosphere to advance its weapons development, as the United Nations Security Council remains divided over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Disagreements over the potential lifting of US-led sanctions in exchange for North Korean disarmament steps have halted nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang since 2019. In the face of international criticism, Kim has remained committed to his aims of concurrently building nuclear weapons and improving the country’s poor economy, and has shown no readiness to totally surrender a nuclear arsenal that he sees as his best chance of survival.
This year, North Korea has performed 13 rounds of weapons tests, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile flight test since 2017.
There are also indicators that North Korea is reopening tunnels at a nuclear test site that was shut down in 2017, presumably in preparation for a nuclear test. Official North Korean newspapers published articles on Monday pushing for greater public support for Kim.
“The esteemed Comrade Kim Jong Un is the symbol of our party’s, state’s, and revolutionary armed forces’ might, as well as the representation of their tremendous dignity,” the official Rodong Sinmun daily stated. “Follow the renowned General Secretary Kim Jong Un for all happiness and a bright future.”