SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned that he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in a possible military conflict with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals. He said that they are pushing the Korean peninsula. to the brink of war
Kim’s speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War was ostensibly aimed at fostering domestic unity in the impoverished country, which is suffering economic problems linked to the pandemic. Some observers say North Korea is likely to escalate its threats against the United States and South Korea as the allies prepare to expand summer drills, which the North sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.
“Our armed forces are fully prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power precisely and quickly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in his speech on Wednesday, according to the official Korean news agency. Central News Agency.
He accused the United States of “demonizing” North Korea to justify its hostile policies. He said the U.S.-South Korean military drills show “double standards” and the “gangster” side of the U.S., as it views North Korea’s routine military activities — an apparent reference to the country’s missile tests — as a provocation or threat.
Kim also called new South Korean President Yoon Seok-yol a “confrontational maniac” who has surpassed South Korean leaders and said Yoon’s conservative government is led by “gangsters.” Since taking office in May, the Yun administration has worked to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and strengthen its capacity to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear threats, including a pre-emptive strike capability.
“Talking about military action against our nation, who have absolute weapons that they fear the most, is ridiculous and a very dangerous suicidal act,” Kim said. Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our mighty power, and Yoon Seok Yeol’s government and his army will be destroyed.
This year, Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with his advancing nuclear program, which some foreign experts say is an attempt to score foreign concessions and achieve greater domestic unity.
In April, Kim said North Korea could pre-emptively use nuclear weapons if threatened, saying they would “never be limited to a deterrence mission.” Kim’s military has also tested missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, putting both the US mainland and South Korea within striking distance.
Kim is seeking more public support as his country’s economy has been hurt by pandemic-related border closures, US sanctions and his own mismanagement. North Korea also acknowledged its first outbreak of COVID-19 in May, although the scale of illness and death in a country that lacks the modern medical capacity to deal with it is widely disputed.
“Kim’s rhetoric heightens external threats to justify his centralized military and economic regime,” said Leif-Erik Easley, a professor at Oha University in Seoul. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs violate international law, but Kim tries to portray his destabilizing weapons buildup as a righteous effort to defend himself.
North Korea rejected the US and South Korea’s proposals to resume talks and said the country’s rivals should first abandon their hostile policies towards North Korea, clearly referring to US sanctions and US-South Korean military exercises.
South Korea’s defense ministry announced last week that this summer’s military exercises with the United States will include field training for the first time since 2018, along with computer-simulated tabletop exercises.
In recent years, the South Korean and U.S. militaries have scaled back some of their regular drills due to concerns about COVID-19 and to support stalled U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return. canceled or reduced. Economic and political interests