North Korea’s Kim orders new ICBM, bigger nuclear arsenal amid tension

Kim stresses the need to ensure “overwhelming military power” to defend its sovereignty and security.
He accuses Washington and Seoul of trying to “isolate and stifle” Pyongyang.
He calls the constantly deployed US nuclear attack assets in South Korea “unprecedented in human history.”

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for developing new ICBMs and a larger nuclear arsenal to counter US-led threats, state media said on Sunday, amid rising tension between the two rival Koreas.

At a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party, Kim stressed the need to secure “overwhelming military power” to defend his sovereignty and security.

The meeting came amid cross-border tensions over last week’s intrusion of North Korean drones into the South and the North’s spate of missile launches, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Kim accused Washington and Seoul of trying to “isolate and suffocate” Pyongyang with constantly deployed US nuclear attack assets in South Korea, calling it “unprecedented in human history.”

He vowed to develop another ICBM system “whose main mission is rapid nuclear counterattack” under a plan to bolster the country’s nuclear force, the official KCNA news agency said.

“The prevailing situation demands that efforts be redoubled to overwhelmingly strengthen military power…in response to troubling military maneuvers by the United States and other hostile forces,” he said.

South Korea has become “our undoubted enemy” and is “bent on the reckless and dangerous accumulation of weapons” and hostile military moves, Kim said.

“It highlights the importance and necessity of mass production of tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal,” Kim said, adding that these would be a “major orientation” of the 2023 nuclear and defense strategy.

As part of the plan, the country will also launch its first military satellite “at the earliest possible date” as it accelerates its drive to build a spy satellite, with preparations for the vehicle in the final stage, KCNA said.

The report came hours after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast, in a rare late-night weapons test on New Year’s Day.

The isolated country also launched three ballistic missiles on Saturday, capping a year marked by a record number of missile tests.

KCNA said in a separate dispatch that it was testing a new 600mm super-large multiple rocket launcher capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Kim praised the munitions industry for delivering 30 units of the system, calling it a “central offensive weapon” with all of South Korea within its range, and the ability to perform a surprise and precision launch.

“We have declared our resolute willingness to respond with nuclear weapon for nuclear weapon and all-out confrontation for all-out confrontation,” Kim said at a handover ceremony on Saturday, ordering more powerful weapons to “completely overwhelm the aggressive US imperialist forces.” and their puppet army.”

Inter-Korean ties have long been tense, but have become even more tense since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in the south in May and vowed to take a tougher line against Pyongyang.

The recent drone intrusion reignited criticism of South Korea’s air defenses, with Yoon ordering the military to send drones north in response “even if it means risking escalation,” officials said.

The latest missile flew about 400 kilometers after being fired at around 02:50 local time (1750 GMT) from the Ryongsong area of the capital Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The JCS strongly condemned the North’s series of missile tests as “serious provocations” and urged an immediate halt.

Japan’s coast guard said the missile reached an altitude of around 100 km and flew around 350 km. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tokyo had protested the launch to North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, but highlighted the destabilizing impact of North Korea’s weapons program.

North Korea fired an unprecedented number of missiles in 2022, pushing ahead with weapons development amid speculation it could test a nuclear weapon for the seventh time.

In November, North Korea also resumed ICBM tests for the first time since 2017, successfully launching the massive new Hwasong-17, potentially capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

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