On Sunday, North Korea’s state media KCNA reported that Kim Jong-un has called for “an exponential increase” in the production of nuclear warheads and called to build a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The North Korean leader has claimed the production of nuclear weaponry is in response to threats from the United States and South Korea.
KCNA reported that Kim Jong-un announced his plans during an address at a meeting of the ruling Korea Workers’ Party on the final day of the six-day plenary meeting which reviewed 2022.
He said the level of “military pressure” being put on North Korea was at a “maximum” due to the alliance and military cooperation between the US, Japan and South Korea.
The North Korean leader accused both the US and South Korea of carrying out a “plot to isolate and stifle” North Korea, and added it was “unparalleled in human history”.
Kim Jong-un also called South Korea “our undoubted enemy” and accused the South of being “hell-bent on imprudent and dangerous arms build-up while busying itself with hostile military moves to pose a confrontational challenge.”
In response, Kim Jong-un said in the coming year that North Korea must produce tactical nuclear weapons as well as develop a more advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
KCNA also reported that this new production of nuclear weaponry would give them a “quick counterstrike capability.”
Kim Jong-un said: “The currently established situation calls for our country doubling down our efforts to strengthen our military power overwhelmingly to safeguard our sovereignty, safety and basic national interest to cope with the dangerous military moves by the US and other hostile forces that target us.”
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Kim Jong-un’s speech comes after North Korea’ launched at least three short-range ballistic missiles into the eastern sea on Saturday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
They said South Korea detected another launch on Sunday at around 2:50am, which travelled around 250 miles before falling into the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch “a grave provocation” which hurt peace and security in the region as well as around the world
KCNA confirmed that North Korea conducted testing on its Kim Jong-un which Kim Jong-un described as an “offensive weapon” which can carry nuclear warheads and added that South Korea was within range of the weapon.
The South Korean Defence Ministry said: “We gravely warn that should North Korea make an attempt at using nuclear arms, it would lead to the end of the Kim Jong-un regime.”
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North Korea has fired more than 70 missiles in 2022, including the three launched on New Year’s Eve.
In 2019, it fired four missiles and in 2020 it fired eight after what seems an increase in production since the breakdown of nuclear negotiations in 2019 between the leaders at the time, US president Donald Trump and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
In November 2022, experts believed North Korea was able to successfully launch its first ICBM test since 2017 with the Hwasong-17, which can carry many nuclear warheads and may be able to travel 10,000 miles.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, South Korea has said North Korea used the launces in the past year to demonstrate its military abilites.
He said: “Its recent missile launches were not technically impressive. Instead, the high volume of tests at unusual times and from various locations demonstrate that North Korea could launch different types of attack, anytime, and from many directions.”
Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University in South Korea, warned that North Korea’s latest launch signalled it was “preparing for the possibility of war beyond the collapse of inter-Korean relations.”