North Korea’s Kim orders new ICBM, bigger nuclear arsenal amid tensions According to Reuters

By Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles and a larger nuclear arsenal to counter US-led threats, state media said. said on Sunday, amid escalating tensions between the two Koreas.

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

The meeting comes amid cross-border tensions over the North Korean drone’s infiltration of South Korea last week and a series of missile launches by North Korea, including ballistic missiles. intercontinental (ICBM).

Kim accused Washington and Seoul of trying to “isolate and stifle” Pyongyang with the US nuclear strike means repeatedly deployed in South Korea, calling it “unprecedented in human history”.

He vowed to develop another ICBM system “with the main task of which is a rapid nuclear counterattack” under the plan to strengthen the country’s nuclear force, the official KCNA news agency said.

“The current situation calls for a redoubled effort to drastically increase military strength… in response to the disturbing military moves of the US and other hostile forces,” the statement read.

Kim said South Korea had become “our unquestionable enemy” as it “prepared to recklessly and dangerously hoard weapons” as well as hostile military moves.

“It underscores 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 This will be the “main direction” of the defense and nuclear strategy in 2023.

KCNA said that as part of the plan, the country will also launch its first military satellite “at the earliest possible date” by speeding up efforts to build a spy satellite, with preparation for this vehicle is in the final stage.

‘Super large rocket launcher’

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

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

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

Kim praised the weapons industry for providing 30 units of the system, calling it a “core offensive weapon” with all of South Korea within its range, while also being capable of conducting a single launch. precise and unexpected.

“We have declared our will to resolutely respond with nuclear forfeiture and all-out confrontation for all-out confrontation,” Kim said at a delivery ceremony on Saturday, ordering additional equipment. stronger weapons to “totally overwhelm the belligerent forces of the American imperialists and their forces. puppet army.”

Inter-Korean relations have long been strained but have become even more strained since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in South Korea in May, pledging to take a tougher line on Pyongyang.

Officials say the recent drone intrusion has sparked criticism of South Korea’s air defense capabilities and Yoon has ordered the military to send drones into the North to respond. pay “even if it means risking escalation”.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the latest missile flew about 400 kilometers (249 miles) after being fired at around 2:50 a.m. local time (17:50 GMT) from the capital’s Ryongsong area. capital Pyongyang.

The JCS strongly condemns North Korea’s series of missile tests as “serious provocations” and calls for an immediate halt.

The Japan Coast Guard said the missile reached an altitude of about 100 kilometers and flew about 350 kilometers. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tokyo had protested against North Korea over the launch 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 stressed the destabilizing impact of the US weapons program. North Korea.

North Korea has launched an unprecedented number of rockets in 2022, spurring weapons development amid speculation the country may test a seventh nuclear weapon.

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

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