Kim Jong-un promises to step up development of North Korea’s nuclear program | International

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Kim Jong-un likes military parades. In the last two years, since the pandemic began, the North Korean leader has held four, all of them at night, as many as in his first five years in office, to show off the latest additions to his atomic and ballistic arsenal. And he has taken advantage of the last one to send an unequivocal message: he has ordered to reinforce the nuclear program of his country. “The forces of our republic must be fully prepared to fulfill their mission and fulfill their deterrent task at any time,” he stressed in his speech.

The parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Armed Forces was held on Sunday night, although North Korean television did not broadcast it until late Monday. Pyongyang did not save on blows of effect. It exhibited all its novelties in ballistics. There were submarine-launched missiles (SLBMs), tactical missiles, multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). Also the hypersonic missiles that Kim himself had announced in January of last year, and that were tested for the first time —according to the regime— in September. Although the star of the march was the largest intercontinental missile (ICBM) developed by North Korean forces, the Hwasong-17. The passage of three of them on their transport and launch vehicles marked the end of the act, between bursts of fireworks.

North Korea claims to have successfully tested this projectile, which it had already shown in a previous parade last year, in March. But analysts consider that the launch of that rocket, nicknamed “the monster” among international experts due to its gigantic dimensions, was a failure and the missile exploded shortly after taking off on March 16. A second shot on March 25, which Pyongyang claimed was that of a Hwasong-17, did hit its targets, but analysts believe that what was tested that day was another earlier ICBM model, a slightly modified Hwasong-15. .

Kim, accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, appeared at the parade in a white marshal’s uniform — the title by which his fellow citizens often refer to him — instead of the civilian suits he has worn on previous occasions.

Delirium and cries of “long life” among the crowd

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As is customary in his public appearances, or at least in what the state media show the public, he was received with delirium and cries of “manse! meek!” (“long life”) by the crowd that filled Kim Il-sung Square. According to plans shown on North Korean television, no one was wearing a mask.

In his speech, the supreme leader – who does not necessarily speak in public whenever he attends a parade – assured that the country will “strengthen and develop” its nuclear arsenal at the “greatest possible speed”. “True peace can be relied upon and national dignity and sovereignty can be guaranteed when you have a powerful defense force that can defeat the enemy,” he said.

Kim assured that the main mission of his nuclear weapons is to “dissuade” other countries from starting a war. He did not mention the United States or South Korea, the nations that Pyongyang considers his greatest enemies. But he did issue a warning: “If any country tries to harm the fundamental interests of our country, our nuclear force will have no choice but to carry out its second mission.” The supreme leader did not give details of what this second task may be, presumably an attack.

The words of the third member of the Kim dynasty in North Korea come as he prepares to take power from his neighbor to the south, the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, winner of the presidential elections in March. The former attorney general has promised a tougher policy against Pyongyang, in contrast to the approach maintained by the outgoing head of state, Moon Jae-in, during his five years in office and which opened the door to the start of negotiations on nuclear disarmament. between Kim and then White House tenant Donald Trump.

The failure of these negotiations, embodied in the fiasco at the Hanoi summit between the two leaders in February 2019, led Kim to resume the weapons program that he had put on hold during the dialogue process. So far this year, North Korea has carried out a dozen missile tests, including an ICBM in March, and analysts fear it may prepare a nuclear test as well.

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