N. Korea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuke arsenal

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered an “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal and the development of a new, more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reported Sunday. A record number of missile launches last year.

Kim’s move is in line with the broader direction of his nuclear weapons programme, and he has repeatedly vowed to increase both the quality and quantity of nuclear weapons. China is likely to continue its provocative weapons tests, eventually using its expanded arsenal to win concessions, such as sanctions relief, in future deals with rivals.

“They are now trying to isolate and suppress (North Korea) in a way unprecedented in human history,” Kim Jong Un said at a recently concluded meeting of the ruling party, according to the KCNA. “In order to thoroughly guarantee (the country’s) sovereignty, security and fundamental interests, further efforts are required to overwhelmingly strengthen military power.”

Kim accused South Korea of ​​”desperate for a rash and dangerous military buildup” and openly propagating preparations for war with North Korea. Kim said this highlights the need for mass production of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield and calls for an “exponential increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal,” he said.

Kim also set a task to develop another ICBM system whose “main task is a rapid nuclear counterattack,” KCNA said without elaborating.

Kim accused the United States of frequently deploying nuclear weapons to South Korea, stepping up trilateral military cooperation with South Korea and Japan, and promoting the establishment of regional military blocs like NATO.

Tactical nuclear weapons and military reconnaissance satellites are among a series of weapons systems Kim has pledged to introduce in recent years. Other weapons he wants include multiple warhead missiles, more agile solid-fuel ICBMs, water-launched nuclear missiles and hypersonic weapons.

External concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program have increased since North Korea last year approved a new law that allows for the first use of nuclear weapons in a wide range of situations and openly threatens to be the first to use them.

In his speech at the party convention, Kim repeated the threat.

“(Chairman Kim’s report) made it clear that he considers nuclear forces to be the primary mission of deterring war and safeguarding peace and stability. mission,” KCNA said.

The growing North Korean nuclear threat has prompted the United States and South Korea to expand their regular exercises and strengthen trilateral security cooperation, including Japan. The US military has warned that any nuclear attack by North Korea on the US or its allies and partners “will result in the end of its regime.”

“(Kim) first ordered mass production of warheads and ballistic missiles during his New Year’s address in 2018. , we are about to double our quantitative expansion goals.” international peace.

Panda said the reference to the new intercontinental ballistic missile appears to be related to solid propellant systems. “We should expect to see larger solid-propellant missiles tested in the near future,” he said.

North Korea said last month that Kim oversaw the testing of a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” for a new strategic weapon. Experts say the weapon refers to a solid-fuel ICBM, which has solid-propellant rocket fuel already loaded inside, allowing it to fire faster than a liquid-fuel ICBM. All of his ICBMs tested so far by North Korea use liquid propellants.

Earlier on Sunday, South Korean forces detected a missile launch from North Korea’s metropolitan area. ) moved.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch a “grave provocation” that undermines the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the world. South Korea said it is closely monitoring North Korea’s movements in coordination with the United States and stands ready to overwhelmingly respond to any provocation.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the launch highlighted the “destabilizing effects” of North Korea’s illegal weapons programme. It said the US commitment to defending South Korea and Japan “remains impregnable.”

North Korea launched more than 70 missiles last year. North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests indicate that it is likely encouraged by the progress of its nuclear program.

On Saturday, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

North Korean state media confirmed on Sunday that the country had test-launched multiple super-large rocket launchers to test the weapons’ capabilities. KCNA said three of his shells fired from a launcher on Saturday precisely hit targets on an island off the country’s east coast. North Korea fired another shell from its launcher into eastern waters on Sunday, it said.

According to KCNA, State Affairs Commission Chairman Kim Jong-un said the rocket launcher could reach all of South Korea and carry a tactical nuclear warhead.

Outside experts classify launcher-fired weapons as ballistic missiles because of their ballistics, range, and other characteristics.

North Korea launched missiles for the second day in a row after South Korea conducted rocket tests on Friday related to its plan to establish space-based surveillance to better monitor North Korea. , South Korea’s military said it had test-launched a solid-fuel rocket, a type of space rocket it plans to use to launch its first spy satellite into orbit in the next few years.

Earlier last week, South Korea sent its own drones to North Korea, accusing North Korea of ​​flying drones across its heavily strengthened border for the first time in five years.

South Korea has admitted that it failed to shoot down any of the five North Korean drones said to have been spotted south of its border. But South Korea has vowed to beef up its air defense network and be tougher on future provocations from North Korea.

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