Kim Jong-un said the nuclear forces, the symbol of our national strength and the centerpiece of our military strength, must be enhanced in terms of quality and size. Do it “at a faster pace” in a lengthy speech during a military parade in Pyongyang, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Although its contents were only revealed yesterday, the speech was delivered Monday night, during a parade to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.
The North Korean leader, who was dressed in a white military uniform and accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, watched a display of tanks, rocket launchers and missiles.
North Korea faces tough international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, and negotiations have failed to persuade Kim to abandon the tests.
For Kim, there is no doubt: the country’s nuclear weapons are a “symbol of national strength” and must be diverse. He stressed that “to anticipate the turbulent political and military situation and all kinds of future crises… we will build our nuclear force as quickly as possible.”
This year alone, Pyongyang has conducted more than a dozen weapons tests, including its first fully-powered international ballistic missile launch since 2017. In 2006, North Korea, still led by Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader, carried The first nuclear test. Since then, he’s performed five more, always upping his intensity.
North Korea has reportedly agreed to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests as part of Kim’s bid to negotiate with then-US President Donald Trump, which failed in 2019 and has been on hold ever since.
After the resumption of weapons tests at the end of 2021 and in particular this year, the United States and South Korea have warned of the possible resumption of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Concerns heightened after satellite images were released showing signs of activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear facility, which North Korea said it destroyed ahead of the first summit between Kim and Trump in 2018.
deterrent weapons, but…
According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim oversaw a huge military parade on Monday, in which paratroopers and thousands of soldiers participated in a march and a display of weapons.
In his speech, the leader emphasized that the main role of nuclear weapons is deterrence, but that they can be used if the country’s “essential interests” are attacked. “If any force tries to usurp our country’s interests, our nuclear force will have no choice but to carry out its second mission.”
Kim’s message may be in response to the election of new South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol, a hard-line conservative who will take office on May 10.
“It is worth noting that Kim is now talking specifically about the purpose of his nuclear weapons,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP. “South Korean President-elect Yoon has threatened to launch pre-emptive strikes against Pyongyang if necessary, and Kim seems to indirectly assert that he may have to respond with nuclear methods,” he added.
The show showcased the newest piece in North Korea’s arsenal, the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, which Pyongyang said it successfully tested on March 24, the agency said.
“The viewers celebrated with enthusiasm and happiness to see the Hwasong-17 ICBM, which took to the skies on March 24, to prove to the world the absolute power and strategic position of our republic,” the agency said.
Pictures showed large missiles on mobile launchers crossing Kim Il Sung Square, while North Koreans, dressed in traditional dress, waved flags and flowers.
On the test date, state media hailed the “miraculous” launch of what was supposed to be Hwasong-17, posting photos and videos of Kim Jong Un supervising the test. But analysts pointed out inconsistencies in Pyongyang’s information. Washington and Seoul suspect that the communist regime actually launched the Hwasong-15, a less advanced missile tested in 2017.
“Despite all the rehearsals and months of rehearsals, North Korea’s military parade on Monday didn’t turn up much news,” said Chad O’Carroll of the Seoul-based specialist website NK News.
North Korea organizes military rallies to mark important dates and events in an effort to show strength. These serve as outside observers for clues about the latest developments in the country’s weapons.