SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned yet again that the North could preemptively use its nuclear weapons if threatened, as he praised his top military officials over the staging of a massive military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, this week.
Kim expressed “firm will” to continue developing his nuclear-armed military so that it could “preemptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Saturday.
KCNA said Kim called his military officials to praise their work on Monday’s parade, where the North showcased the biggest weapons in its military’s nuclear program, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the U.S. homeland and a variety of shorter-range solid-fuel missiles that pose a growing threat to South Korea and Japan. KCNA didn’t say when the meeting took place.
The parade marking the 90th anniversary of North Korea’s army came as Kim revives nuclear brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of his country as a nuclear power and remove crippling economic sanctions.
Speaking to thousands of troops and spectators mobilized for the event, Kim vowed to develop his nuclear forces at the “fastest possible speed” and threatened to use them if provoked. He said his nukes would “never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent” in situations where the North faces external threats to its unspecified “fundamental interests.”
North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of weapons launches in 2022 alone, including its first full-range test of an ICBM since 2017, as Kim exploits a favorable environment to push forward its weapons program as the U.N. Security Council remains divided and effectively paralyzed over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since 2019 because of disagreements over a potential easing of U.S.-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 biggest guarantee of survival.