North Korea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuclear arsenal – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered an “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal, the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile and the launch of its first spy satellite , state media reported on Sunday , after it entered 2023 with another weapons launch after a record number of test activities last year.

Kim’s moves are in line with the overall thrust of his nuclear weapons development program, as he has repeatedly promised to increase the quality and quantity of his arsenal to meet what he calls American hostility. Some experts say Kim’s push to build more nuclear weapons and new weapons systems reflects his hopes of bolstering his future bargaining power as he heads toward prolonged tensions with the United States and its ally.

“They are now keen to isolate and suffocate (North Korea), unprecedented in human history,” Kim said at a recently concluded meeting of the ruling party, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. “The prevailing situation calls for a redoubled effort to massively strengthen the military muscle.”

Kim accused South Korea of ​​being “determined to stockpile reckless and dangerous weapons” and openly denied its preparations for war with North Korea. This, Kim said, highlights the need to produce multiple tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield and push for “an exponential increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal,” KCNA said.

Kim also set a task to develop another ICBM system “whose primary mission is rapid nuclear attack,” KCNA said. He said Kim has accused the United States of frequently deploying nuclear strike assets in South Korea and is pushing to establish a NATO-style regional military bloc.

Kim said North Korea would also launch its first military reconnaissance satellite “soon”, saying related preparations were in their final stages.

Tactical nuclear weapons and a military reconnaissance satellite are on Kim’s long wish list for new weapons. Other weapons he wants include a multi-warhead missile, a more agile solid-fuel ICBM, an underwater-launched nuclear missile, and a hypersonic weapon.

“Kim’s comments at the party meeting read like a list of ambitious — but potentially achievable — New Year’s resolutions,” said Soo Kim, security analyst at the California-based RAND Corporation. “It’s ambitious in that Kim has deliberately chosen to spell out what he hopes to accomplish as we head into 2023, but it also suggests a dose of confidence on Kim’s part.”

Last month, North Korea claimed it had conducted key tests needed to develop a new strategic weapon, a likely reference to a solid-fuel ICBM and a spy satellite.

Kim’s recognition of South Korea as an enemy and citing the belligerent policies of the United States and South Korea is “a reliable reason for the regime to produce more missiles and weapons to consolidate Kim’s negotiating position and become North Korea’s status as a nuclear power is material.” said Kim.

Some observers say North Korea wants to become a legitimate nuclear-powered state to secure the lifting of UN and other international sanctions and force an end to regular US-South military exercises. Koreans the North regards as a rehearsal for an invasion.

“During his 2018 New Year’s address (Kim) first ordered the mass production of warheads and ballistic missiles, and he is doubling down on the goal of quantitative expansion in the coming year,” said Ankit Panda, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment. for World Peace.

Panda said the reference to a new ICBM appears to be for a solid-propellant system, saying “we should expect to see larger solid-propellant missiles being tested soon.”

Panda said the satellite launch is expected to take place in April. North Korea traditionally celebrates April 15, the birthday of Kim’s late father and state founder, Kim Il Sung, with grand celebrations and state-sponsored celebrations.

External concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program have grown since the North approved a new law last year that allows the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in a wide range of situations and overt threats to will use its nuclear weapons first.

In his speech at the party meeting, Kim repeated this threat.

“(Kim’s report) made it clear that our nuclear force sees its primary mission to prevent war and preserve peace and stability. However, if he fails to intervene, he will undertake a second mission, which is not for defense,” KCNA said.

The growing nuclear threat from the North has prompted the United States and South Korea to expand military exercises and strengthen trilateral security cooperation involving Japan. The US military has warned that any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners would “bring about the end of this regime”.

Earlier on Sunday, South Korea’s military spotted the launch of a missile from the capital’s northern region. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile traveled about 400 kilometers (250 miles) before falling in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch a “serious provocation” that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and around the world. He said South Korea remains ready to face any provocation by the overwhelming majority.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that US defense commitments to South Korea and Japan “remain strong”.

North Korea has tested more than 70 missiles in the past year, including three short-range ballistic missiles that South Korea spotted on Saturday. The frenzy over the North’s test suggests that the country is likely to be strengthened by its advancement of the nuclear program, although whether the country has operational nuclear missiles remains a source of outside debate.

North Korean state media confirmed on Sunday that the country had conducted test firings of its Super Large Multiple Rocket Launcher to test the weapon’s capability. KCNA said three missiles fired from the launcher on Saturday accurately hit a target island off the country’s east coast. He said North Korea fired another round from a launcher into its eastern waters on Sunday.

Kim Jong Un said the rocket launcher puts all of South Korea within striking range and is capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead, according to KCNA.

Outside experts classify the weapons fired from the launcher as ballistic missiles based on their trajectories, ranges and other characteristics.

“His recent missile launches are not technically spectacular. Rather, the high volume of tests at unusual times and from different locations shows that North Korea can launch various a different kind of attack, at any time and from many directions,” said Leif-Eric Easley. , a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

Tensions between the rival Koreas have escalated since early last week, when South Korea accused North Korea of ​​flying drones for the first time in five years and responded by sending its own drones in the north.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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