March 29, 2022
SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country will develop and deploy more powerful means of attack, while seeking to bolster up its “nuclear war deterrent more expeditiously,” according to state media Monday.
In an article published in Monday’s edition of the Rodong Sinmun, Kim stressed that “genuine defense capability equates to powerful attack capability” while taking a group photograph with officials, scientists, and defense industry workers who contributed to the “successful test-launch” of a Hwasong 17 intercontinental ballistic missile on March 24. The Rodong Sinmun is an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.
The report highlighted the new-type Hwasong 17 ICBM as the “core nuclear attack means representing strategic armed forces,” although South Korean and US intelligence authorities are considering the possibility that North Korea launched a Hwasong 15 ICBM and issued a false statement.
At the event, Kim also took note of the significance of test-firing the Hwasong 17 missile, labeling it as a “indispensable sacred cause of building up the country’s nuclear war deterrent.”
The North Korean leader notably expressed his expectation and conviction that Pyongyang will “perfect the country’s nuclear war deterrent more expeditiously” using the Hwasong-17 launch as momentum.
Kim called for continuously reinforcing the North’s offensive capabilities and nuclear war deterrent to defend the country and repel any threat posed by the “imperialists.”
“Only when we possess formidable striking capabilities and overwhelming military strength that cannot be stopped by anyone, we can prevent war, guarantee national security, and deter and control all kinds of threats and blackmails by the imperialists,” read the article.
Kim underscored that North Korea would “continue to accomplish the goal of reinforcing national defense capabilities and develop more powerful means of attack and arm forces with them.”
Since early this year, Pyongyang has expedited the development of new weapons systems, including advanced ICBMs and hypersonic missiles, which Kim ordered be developed last year as part of the country’s five-year defense development plan.
Kim emphasized that North Korea “must become strong to ward off any kind of threat, defend peace, accelerate socialist construction and take the responsibility for the security of future generations.”
“Comrade Kim Jong-un reiterated our party’s will to build up powerful national defense capabilities to protect the safety and future of our country and people with more solid and complete and stronger strategic and absolute strength,” Rodong Sinmun said.
N.Korea’s top priority, strategic choice
The party’s stated direction is in line with North Korea’s announcement Friday that the government and party have “steadfast strategic choice and determination to keep bolstering up powerful nuclear war deterrent in quantity and quality in the preparation of all kinds of potential crises that could happen in the future.”
While observing the Hwasong 17 ICBM launch, Kim was quoted as saying that he will “put top priority on concentrating the country’s efforts to continuously reinforce national defense capabilities,” particularly against the US.
The North Korean leader emphasized that the country would develop defense capabilities to “thoroughly prepare for the long-term confrontation with US imperialists,“ the state media reported on Friday.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Monday forecast that North Korea will “concentrate all the available capacity in strengthening national defense capabilities, including nuclear forces, under the pretext of preparing for a long-term confrontation with the US” in its report to the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.
At the eighth party congress held in January 2021, Kim pronounced the ruling party’s principle and reciprocal approach to the US by “responding to power with power and goodwill with goodwill.”
But the Unification Ministry evaluated the ICBM launch as Pyongyang’s move to flesh out its confrontational stance with the Biden administration.
The ministry “sees the possibilities of North Korea additionally heightening tension” for purposes, including strengthening internal solidarity, on the occasion of the 110th birth anniversary of the late founder Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-un’s 10 years in power.
Pyongyang’s will to reinforce striking capabilities comes as Seoul and Washington have detected early signs of the country’s preparations to resume a nuclear test.
Defense Ministry’s spokesperson Boon Seung-chan on Monday confirmed that the South Korean and US authorities “have recently detected unidentified activities of restoring some of the tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site.”
Pyongyang reportedly has been constructing a shortcut to tunnel 3, which has never been used, at the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in Kilju County of North Hamgyong Province. The South Korean authorities see it as the attempt to speed up its restoration progress.
North Korea dismantled the country’s sole nuclear test facility in May 2018 ahead of the first US-North Korea summit in Singapore to implement Kim Jong-un’s commitment at a party plenum the previous month. Kim also pronounced a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests at the same meeting.