North Korean leader Kim vows to increase nuclear arsenal at ICBM parade

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SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to accelerate the development of his country’s nuclear arsenal while watching a massive military parade displaying intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), state media reported Tuesday.

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The parade was held on Monday evening during the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the North Korean armed forces, according to state news agency KCNA.

Pyongyang has recently stepped up its weapons testing and military show as denuclearization talks with the United States stalled and a new conservative administration came to power in South Korea.

US and South Korean officials say there are signs of new construction at North Korea’s only known nuclear test site, which has been officially closed since 2018, suggesting Pyongyang is preparing to resume nuclear weapons testing.

“The nuclear forces of our republic must be fully prepared to carry out their responsible mission and at any time bring into action their unique deterrents,” Kim told the audience, according to the Central News Agency.

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He said that the primary mission of the North’s nuclear forces is deterrence, but their use “can never be limited to a single mission.”

“If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to resolutely carry out an unexpected second task,” Kim said.

Hong Min, a senior fellow at the Korea National Unification Institute in Seoul, said Kim’s speech could signal a shift in his nuclear doctrine to leave open the option of “nuclear first use.”

“While he did not specify what constituted a ‘second mission’ or ‘fundamental interests’, he indicated in a broader sense that nuclear forces could be used preemptively, not only when attacked, but also under certain circumstances.” Hong said.

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Yang Mu-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim’s remarks could have been directed against the new government of South Korean President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol, who warned of possible preemptive strikes if an attack from the north was imminent.

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Yoon takes office on May 10. His transition team has criticized Pyongyang for developing offensive weapons, although it appears to be in talks.

“The parade proved that North Korea has been outwardly calling for peace and dialogue over the past five years, but in fact it has been focused on developing means that can threaten not only the Korean Peninsula, but also Northeast Asia and world peace.” ,” said Deputy Spokesman Won Il Hee. briefing.

“Ensuring the ability to deter a serious and credible threat from North Korea is the most urgent task,” he added, promising to strengthen the alliance with the United States and expand the containment of Seoul.

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Dressed in a white imperial-style suit, a smiling Kim waved and shook hands with senior officials as North Korea’s largest known ICBM, the Hwasong-17, appeared on parade, state television footage showed.

Hwasong-17 Icbms Take Part In A Nighttime Military Parade Marking The 90Th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Korean People'S Revolutionary Army In Pyongyang, North Korea, In This Undated Photo Released By North Korea'S Central News Agency (Kcna) In April.  26, 2022.
Hwasong-17 ICBMs take part in a nighttime military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) in April. 26, 2022. Photo by CTAC /via REUTERS

The missile was unveiled in 2020 and first tested last month, but Seoul officials believe it exploded mid-air.

The video showed hypersonic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) ​​carried by trucks and launch vehicles.

Kim was greeted by a squad of people wearing orange hazardous material suits and gas masks, an obvious symbol of efforts to fight the coronavirus.

The procession also included rows of conventional weapons such as rocket launchers and prototype tanks, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers walking at a goose pace and shouting “Long live!” to Kim Jong Un.

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Multiple Rocket Launchers Take Part In A Nighttime Military Parade Marking The 90Th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Korean People'S Revolutionary Army In Pyongyang, North Korea.  In This Undated Photo Released By The North Korea Central News Agency (Kcna) On April 26, 2022.
Multiple rocket launchers take part in a nighttime military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army in Pyongyang, North Korea. In this undated photo released by the North Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2022. Photo by CTAC /via REUTERS

North Korea has been banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions from developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and has been subject to economic sanctions as a result.

On April 16, Kim Jong-un directed the launch of short-range missiles that state media said could deliver tactical nuclear weapons.

Visiting Seoul last week, U.S. envoy to North Korea Son Kim vowed to “respond responsibly and decisively to provocative behavior,” while stressing his willingness to engage with Pyongyang “anywhere and without any conditions.”

North Korea has said it is open to diplomacy but dismissed Washington’s initiatives as insincere and criticized what it calls “hostile policies” such as sanctions and joint military exercises with the South.

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