Kim Jong Un has claimed that North Korea is “ready to mobilise” its nuclear weapons if South Korea and its “confrontation maniac” president were to make a move against the nation.
At an event on Wednesday marking the 69th anniversary of the end of the Korean war, Kim was reported by state media to have said: “Our armed forces are completely prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilise its absolute power dutifully, exactly and swiftly in accordance with its mission.”
South Korea and Washington are preparing for their first joint, large-scale military exercises since 2018, when drills were “scaled down” ahead of a meeting between Kim and former US president Donald Trump, said the Financial Times (FT). The exercises have been “reduced to computer-simulated command post-training” for the past three years.
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Threats ‘not something new’
A spokesperson for South Korea’s defence ministry said the threats were “not something new”. “It’s a situation that has continued constantly, where North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats have increased,” they continued, adding that they were “responding” to the report.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, the BBC’s Tokyo correspondent, said North Korean rhetoric “is often fiery, especially on significant anniversaries”. Kim’s comments indicate “just how angry” the North Korean regime is about South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who has “laid out a new, more aggressive defence policy” since coming to power in May.
North Korea is also “quite unhappy with the lack of engagement from Washington” since President Joe Biden came to power, said Wingfield-Hayes.
Pyongyang is expected to soon carry out its seventh nuclear test, the first since 2017. It has also carried out at least 28 ballistic missile tests this year, “the most ever in a single year”, said the FT.
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