Seoul: State media said on Tuesday that standing next to North Korea’s largest missile, leader Kim Jong-un said that North Korea’s weapon development is necessary in the face of the hostile policy of the United States and South Korea’s military buildup.
According to the North Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong-un said in a speech at the National Defense Development Exhibition on Monday that Pyongyang was only adding troops for self-defense, not for launching a war.
Kim made the remarks standing next to a variety of weapons, including the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), photos in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed. Among them was the Hwasong-16, North Korea’s largest ICBM, unveiled at a military parade in October 2020, but not yet test fired
“We are not discussing war with anyone, but rather to prevent war itself and to literally increase war deterrence for the protection of national sovereignty,” he said, adding that North Korea’s main enemy is “war itself”.
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 tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, plans to build major new weapons including aircraft carriers, and purchased the F-35 stealth fighter made by the United States.
North Korea has been advancing its missile program, and analysts said it has begun a large-scale expansion of its main nuclear reactor, which is used to produce nuclear bomb fuel.
The United States expressed its willingness to hold diplomatic talks with North Korea at any time. Pyongyang said that as long as Washington maintains policies such as sanctions and military activities in South Korea, it is not interested.
Kim Jong-un said that in the face of North Korea’s continued “misjudgments and actions”, the United States’ claim that it is not hostile to North Korea is unbelievable.
South Korean national security adviser Suh Hoon is expected to meet his American counterpart Jake Sullivan in Washington on Tuesday to discuss North Korea.
When he arrived in Washington on Monday, Suh told reporters he planned to discuss President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for a formal declaration ending the 1950-1953 Korean War – which ended in an armistice, not a formal peace treaty – and for possible easing of sanctions on North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported.
Last week the two Koreas restored their hotlines that the North severed months ago, with Pyongyang urging Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations after criticising what it called double standards over weapons development.
South Korea’s “unrestricted and dangerous” efforts to strengthen its military is “destroying the military balance in the Korean peninsula and increasing military instability and danger,” Kim said in his speech on Monday.
“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,” he added.