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SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un once again warned that the North could use its nuclear weapons prophylactically if they were threatened, as he praised his top military officials over holding a massive military parade in the capital Pyongyang this week.
Kim expressed “firm will” to continue to develop its nuclear-armed military so that it could “preventively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from enemy forces, if necessary,” the Nordic official Koreans. The Central News Agency reported on Saturday.
The KCNA said Kim called her military officials to praise their work at Monday’s parade, in which the Nordic region showcased the largest weapons in its military’s nuclear program, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially reach US homeland and a series of short-range solid-fuel missiles threat to South Korea and Japan. The KCNA did not say when the meeting took place.
The parade, which marks the 90th anniversary of North Korea’s army, came as Kim revived nuclear brinkmanship with the aim of forcing the United States to accept the idea of its country as a nuclear power and remove crippling economic sanctions.
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Kim spoke to thousands of troops and spectators mobilized for the event, promising to develop his nuclear forces at the “fastest possible speed” and threatening to use them if provoked. He said his nuclear weapons “would never be limited to the sole mission of war deterrence” in situations where the Nordic region faces external threats to its unspecified “fundamental interests”.
Kim’s comments suggested he would continue a provocative race in weapons testing to increase pressure on Washington and Seoul. South Korea will inaugurate a new Conservative government in May that can take a tougher line on Pyongyang following current liberal President Moon Jae-in’s derailed engagement policy.
Kim’s threat to use its nuclear forces to protect the ambiguously defined “fundamental interests” of its country may herald an escalating nuclear doctrine that could pose greater concern for South Korea, Japan and the United States, experts say.
North Korea has completed 13 rounds of weapons launches in 2022 alone, including its first full-scale test of an ICBM since 2017, as Kim exploits a favorable environment to push its weapons program forward while the UN Security Council remains divided and effectively paralyzed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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There are also signs that North Korea is rebuilding tunnels at a nuclear test site that was last active in 2017 in preparation for a nuclear test. Some experts say the Nordic region may try to conduct the test sometime between the inauguration of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol on May 10 and his planned summit with US President Joe Biden on May 21 to maximize its political impact.
Kim’s latest remarks followed a burning statement issued by his powerful sister earlier this month in which she blew up South Korea’s defense minister to assert preventive attack capabilities against the Nordic region, saying her country’s nuclear forces would wipe out South Korea’s conventional forces if provoked.
During his campaign, Yoon also spoke about improving the South’s preventive attack capacity and missile defense, as he promised to strengthen the South’s defenses in connection with its alliance with the United States.
While Kim’s collection of ICBMs has attracted much international attention, since 2019, North Korea has also expanded its arsenal of short-range solid-fuel missiles that threaten South Korea.
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The Nordics describe some of these missiles as “tactical” weapons, as experts say, communicating a threat to arm them with smaller nuclear weapons on the battlefield and use them during conventional warfare to defeat the stronger conventional forces in South Korea and the United States, which station around 28,500 troops in the south.
North Korea may use its next nuclear test to claim it has created a nuclear warhead small enough to fit the missiles or other weapons it tested this year, including an alleged hypersonic missile, analysts say.
“Fired missiles are easier to hide, move and fire quickly, making them less vulnerable to a preemptive strike,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Seoul’s Ewha Women’s University.
“Combined with ambitions for tactical nuclear warheads, submarine-based firing capabilities and more sophisticated ICBMs, Pyongyang is not just seeking to deter an attack. Its goal is to run from South Korea in an arms race and force the United States to reduce sanctions. , “added Easley.
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Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been halted since 2019 due to disagreement over a potential easing of US-led sanctions in exchange for North Korean disarmament steps.
Kim has stuck to his goals of simultaneously developing nuclear weapons and the country’s dismal economy in the face of international pressure and has shown no willingness to fully surrender a nuclear arsenal he sees as his greatest guarantee of survival.