North Korea’s Kim Jong Un threatens to use nukes amid tension with U.S., South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has warned that he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in possible military conflicts with the United States and South Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has warned that he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in possible military conflicts with the United States and South Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in possible military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals he believes are on the Korean peninsula. bring the brink of war.

Mr Kim’s speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was apparently intended to strengthen internal unity in the impoverished country amid pandemic economic difficulties. While Mr Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, it is unlikely he would first use them against the superior militaries of the US and its allies, observers say.

“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 dutifully, precisely and quickly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in the statement. Wednesday’s speech, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

He accused the United States of “demonizing” North Korea to justify its hostile policies. Mr Kim said regular military exercises between the US and South Korea that he claimed were North-facing emphasize US “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects because it interferes with North Korea’s routine military activities. – a clear reference to his missile tests – as provocations or dangers.

Slams South Korea

Mr Kim also claimed that the new South Korean government of President Yoon Suk Yeol is being led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters” who have moved beyond South Korea’s previous conservative governments. Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has taken steps to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and strengthen its own capacity to neutralize North Korean nuclear threats, including a preemptive strike capability.

“Talking about military action against our nation, which possesses absolute weapons that they fear most, is ridiculous and is very dangerous suicide action,” Mr Kim said. “Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our mighty force and the Yoon Suk Yeol government and its army will be destroyed.”

South Korea expressed “deep regret” over Mr Kim’s threat and said it remains willing to face any provocation by North Korea in “a forceful, effective manner”.

In a statement read by spokesman Kang In-sun, Mr. Yoon’s presidential national security office said South Korea will ensure its national security and the safety of civilians based on a solid alliance with the United States. It urged North Korea to return to talks to take steps toward denuclearization.

South Korea increases military capacity

Earlier Thursday, South Korea’s defense ministry reiterated its previous position that it has stepped up its military capability and joint defense position with the United States to counter escalating North Korean nuclear threats.

In April, Kim said North Korea could use nuclear weapons preemptively if threatened, saying they would “never be limited to the sole mission of war deterrence”. Kim’s military has also launched nuclear missiles that bring both mainland and South Korea within range. US and South Korean officials have repeatedly said in recent months that North Korea is ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

Mr Kim is seeking increased public support as his country’s economy has been ravaged by pandemic-related border closures, US-led sanctions and his own mismanagement. In May, North Korea also admitted it had its first COVID-19 outbreak, though the extent of illness and death is widely disputed in a country that lacks the modern medical capacity to deal with it.

“Kim’s rhetoric inflates external threats to justify his military-focused and economically struggling regime,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs violate international law, but Kim is trying to portray his destabilizing weapons build-up as a just attempt at self-defense.”

Experts say North Korea is likely to intensify its threats against the US and South Korea as its allies prepare to expand summer drills. In recent years, the South Korean and US militaries have canceled or reduced some of their regular exercises due to concerns over COVID-19 and to support the now-stalled US-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to release its nuclear weapons. program in exchange for economic and political benefits.

During Wednesday’s speech, Mr Kim said his government has recently instituted tasks to more quickly improve its military capacity to respond to military pressure campaigns by its enemies, suggesting it plans to proceed with an expected nuclear test.

But Cheong Seong-Chang of South Korea’s private Sejong Institute said North Korea is unlikely to conduct its nuclear test until China, its main ally and biggest benefactor, holds its Communist Party convention in the fall. He said China is concerned that a North Korean nuclear test could give the United States a justification for strengthening its security partnerships with its allies that it could use to check Chinese influence in the region.

North Korea recently said it is on the move to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak amid falling fever cases, but experts say it’s unclear whether the country can lift its strict restrictions any time soon as it sees a viral resurgence later this year could get. During Wednesday’s event, Kim, veterans and others were not wearing masks, state media photos showed. On Thursday, North Korea reported 11 cases of fever, a huge drop from its peak of about 400,000 a day in May.

North Korea has rejected US and South Korean offers for medical supplies. It has also said it will not return to talks with the United States unless it first abandons its hostile policy toward the north, in clear reference to US-led sanctions and US-South Korean military exercises.

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