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Kim Jong Un threatens to use nukes amid tensions with US, South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned he’s ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media has said.

Kim’s speech on Wednesday to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was apparently meant to boost internal unity in the impoverished country amid pandemic-related economic difficulties.

“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,” Kim said in his speech, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

While Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that he would use them first against the superior militaries of the US and its allies, observers say.

Kim accused the United States of “demonising” North Korea to justify its hostile policies.

He said US-South Korea military drills targeting North Korea show the US’s “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects because it brands North Korea’s routine military activities — an apparent reference to its missile tests — as provocations or threats.

Kim also alleged the new South Korean government of President Yoon Suk Yeol is led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters” who have gone further than previous South Korean conservative governments.

Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has moved to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and bolster its capacity to neutralise North Korean nuclear threats including a preemptive strike capability.

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Tensions spiral

Moon Hong-sik, a deputy spokesperson at the South Korean Defence Ministry, reiterated on Thursday an earlier position that South Korea has been boosting its military capacity and joint defence posture with the United States to cope with escalating North Korean nuclear threats. 

In April, Kim said North Korea could preemptively use nuclear weapons if threatened, saying they would “never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent.”

Kim’s military has also test-launched nuclear-capable missiles that place both the US mainland and South Korea within striking distance.

US and South Korean officials have repeatedly said in the past few months that North Korea is ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

Kim is seeking greater public support as his country’s economy has been battered by pandemic-related border shutdowns, US-led sanctions and his own mismanagement.

Experts say North Korea will likely intensify its threats against the United States and South Korea as the allies prepare to expand summertime exercises.

In recent years, the South Korean and US militaries have cancelled or downsized some of their regular exercises to support now-stalled US-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return for economic and political benefits.

North Korea has said it won’t return to talks with the United States unless it first abandons its hostile polices on the North, in an apparent reference to US-led sanctions and US-South Korean military drills.

READ MORE:
South Korea to lift ban on North Korean media despite tensions

While Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that he would use them first against the superior militaries of the US and its allies, observers say.

Kim's military has test-launched nuclear-capable missiles that place both the US mainland and South Korea within striking distance.
Kim’s military has test-launched nuclear-capable missiles that place both the US mainland and South Korea within striking distance.
(AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned he’s ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media has said.

Kim’s speech on Wednesday to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was apparently meant to boost internal unity in the impoverished country amid pandemic-related economic difficulties.

“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,” Kim said in his speech, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

While Kim has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that he would use them first against the superior militaries of the US and its allies, observers say.

Kim accused the United States of “demonising” North Korea to justify its hostile policies.

He said US-South Korea military drills targeting North Korea show the US’s “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects because it brands North Korea’s routine military activities — an apparent reference to its missile tests — as provocations or threats.

Kim also alleged the new South Korean government of President Yoon Suk Yeol is led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters” who have gone further than previous South Korean conservative governments.

Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has moved to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and bolster its capacity to neutralise North Korean nuclear threats including a preemptive strike capability.

READ MORE:
North Korea’s Kim convenes conference to boost ‘monolithic’ party rule

Tensions spiral

Moon Hong-sik, a deputy spokesperson at the South Korean Defence Ministry, reiterated on Thursday an earlier position that South Korea has been boosting its military capacity and joint defence posture with the United States to cope with escalating North Korean nuclear threats. 

In April, Kim said North Korea could preemptively use nuclear weapons if threatened, saying they would “never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent.”

Kim’s military has also test-launched nuclear-capable missiles that place both the US mainland and South Korea within striking distance.

US and South Korean officials have repeatedly said in the past few months that North Korea is ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

Kim is seeking greater public support as his country’s economy has been battered by pandemic-related border shutdowns, US-led sanctions and his own mismanagement.

Experts say North Korea will likely intensify its threats against the United States and South Korea as the allies prepare to expand summertime exercises.

In recent years, the South Korean and US militaries have cancelled or downsized some of their regular exercises to support now-stalled US-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return for economic and political benefits.

North Korea has said it won’t return to talks with the United States unless it first abandons its hostile polices on the North, in an apparent reference to US-led sanctions and US-South Korean military drills.

READ MORE:
South Korea to lift ban on North Korean media despite tensions

Source: AP

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