North Korea leader Kim Jong Un reviewed powerful missiles developed to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S. mainland due to persistent U.S. hostility. He said his country’s military development is necessary in the face of hostile policies from the U.S. and a military buildup in South Korea, state media reported Tuesday.
Kim, during a speech at an event on Monday, vowed to make his country’s military invincible to counter what he called persistent hostility from the U.S. He said his primary objective, “Was to give North Korea an invincible military no one would dare challenge, but these objectives must not be seen as a threat of war with its neighbor South Korea, or the United States, its regional ally. His plans were for his country’s right to self-defense, and not because of South Korea.”
Sounding more reasonable and unlike Kim he added, “I say once again that South Korea isn’t the one that our military forces have to fight against. Surely, we aren’t’ strengthening our defense capability because of South Korea. We shouldn’t repeat a horrible history of compatriots using force against each other. Our enemy is war itself and not countries like South Korea and the United States.”
According to state news agency KCNA Kim said, “Pyongyang was only increasing its military in self-defense and not to start a war.”
Kim was also quoted by the KCNA as saying, “The United States has been frequently signalling that it’s not hostile to our country, but there has been no behavioral ground to believe that it is not.”
Kim also said, “For our descendants we need to be strong. We need to first be strong. The military threats our country is facing is different from what we saw 10, 5 or 3 years ago. Tensions on the Korean pennsula will not be easily resolved due to the United States.”
Yang Uk, an expert in military strategic studies at Hannam Universit in Seoul, told Al Jazeera that Kim’s message on alleged U.S. hostility was nothing if not constant.
Kim’s remarks were made while standing in front of a variety of weapons, including a Hwasong-16 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), per photos from the KCNA. The Hwasong-16 is North Korea’s largest ICBM and was unveiled at a military parade in October 2002, but not yet test fired.
The two Koreas have been in an accelerating arms race, with both sides testing increasingly advanced short-range ballistic missiles and other hardware.
South Korea recently test fired its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, and plans to build major new weapons including aircraft carriers. It has also bouth American made F-35 stealth fighters.
North Korea has pushed ahead with its missile program, and analysts say it has begun a major expansion ot its main nuclear reactor, used to produce fuel for nuclear bombs.
Per U.S. State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, the U.S. has said, “It is willing to hold diplomatic talks anywhere at any time without preconditions” with North Korea. But, Pyongyang has said it is not interested as long as Washington maintains policies such as sanctions and military activities in South Korea.
Last week, Pyongyang and Seoul reconnected their cross-bord hotline in a sign of thawing ties, with only a few months left in office for the South’s pro-engagement President Mon Jae-in.
But Kim accused Seoul of, “Reckless ambition and a two-faced, illogical attitude. Under the absurd pretext of suppressing our threats, South Korea has openly expressed its desire to gain an edge over us in military power on various occasions. The U.S. is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgements and actions.”