Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the hastening of war preparations, emphasizing the need to accelerate efforts across various sectors, including nuclear weapons and civil defense.

Kim’s directive, disclosed by the official Korean Central News Agency, comes amid rising tensions following his warning that Pyongyang would not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if provoked with nuclear weapons.

Kim delivered these remarks during the ongoing year-end party meeting, where he is expected to unveil key policy decisions for 2024. The North Korean leader highlighted the “extreme” military situation on the Korean peninsula, attributing it to unprecedented confrontations with Washington. In response to these tensions, Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington have increased defense cooperation, activating a real-time data-sharing system for North Korean missile launches.

Recent developments include the arrival of a US nuclear-powered submarine in the South Korean port city of Busan and joint drills involving long-range bombers. North Korea has condemned such actions, labeling them as intentional nuclear war provocations by the US. Throughout the year, Pyongyang achieved significant milestones, including launching a reconnaissance satellite, enshrining its nuclear power status in the constitution, and test-firing its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim, declaring 2023 as a “year of great turn and great change,” highlighted “eye-opening victories.” The United Nations atomic agency expressed concern over the operational status of a second reactor at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility, describing it as “deeply regrettable.”

Analysts anticipate North Korea’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons near the inter-Korean border in the coming year, coupled with advancements in its nuclear program. Ahn Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher, predicts that Pyongyang will exert pressure on South Korea and the United States while maintaining close ties with Russia and China.

Last year, Kim called for an exponential increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during the year-end party meeting. The United States and South Korea recently held the second meeting of their Nuclear Consultative Group, discussing nuclear deterrence options in the event of conflict with North Korea. A spokesperson for North Korea’s defense ministry criticized plans for expanding joint military exercises, including a nuclear operation drill, as an open declaration of nuclear confrontation.

Despite numerous UN Security Council resolutions urging North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the regime remains steadfast, declaring itself an “irreversible” nuclear power and asserting the essential nature of its nuclear program for survival.

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