In a speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has warned that he is ready to use nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with the United States, state media reported on Thursday. It comes weeks after Washington and Seoul claimed North Korea was preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017.
“Our armed forces are thoroughly prepared to respond to any crisis, and our nation’s nuclear war deterrence is also fully ready to mobilize its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly to its mission,” the reclusive nation’s supreme leader said.
It’s the second such threat this year.
Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, told the Associated Press that “Kim’s rhetoric inflates external threats to justify his militarily focused and economically struggling regime.”
“North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are in violation of international law, but Kim tries to depict his destabilizing arms buildup as a righteous effort at self-defense,” he added.
Renewed tensions with the South
The new conservative president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, campaigned on a hardline approach to North Korea’s provocations.
Kim referred to Yoon as “a confrontation maniac” whose government “is led by “gangsters.”
He said any military action against North Korea “will be immediately punished by our powerful strength and the Yoon Suk-yeol government and his military will be annihilated.”
Kim also accused the US of “double standards” and “gangster-like behavior” for resuming military drills with South Korea, because Washington has repeatedly condemned Pyongyang’s own “routine” military activities as provocations.
According to the Washington-based Wilson Center, North Korea has conducted more than 30 missile tests so far this year, compared to just eight in 2021.
Kim added: “I once again make it clear that North Korea is fully ready for any military confrontation with the United States.”