North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has warned that his country could “preemptively” use nuclear weapons if threatened, as he called on the military to bolster up their strength in every way to annihilate the enemy, multiple reports have said, citing local media.
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According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Un has expressed a “firm will” to continue developing the country’s nuclear-armed military so that it could “preemptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary.”
Since he took over as the supreme leader in 2011, Kim is believed to have conducted over 100 missile launches which include intercontinental launches, and four nuclear tests.
Here is what is known so far about North Korea’s nuclear weapons warning:
> North Korea has rolled out a variety of short-range solid-fuel missiles designed to be fired from land vehicles or submarines, which pose a growing threat to South Korea and Japan.
> Kim Jon Un is reviving North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship, which is aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the former country as a nuclear power, news agency AP reported on Saturday.
> In a massive military parade held in the capital city of Pyongyang this week, the supreme leader vowed to develop his nuclear forces at the fastest possible speed and threatened to use them if provoked.
> Kim also said during the parade that the nuclear weapons would never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent in situations where his country faces external threats to its fundamental interests.
> Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of weapons launches so far this year, including a first full-range test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017.
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> The United States has said it is aware of reports that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test and has deemed it a violation of international law. This comes after Kim Jong Un said North Korea will continue to boost its nuclear potential.
> Analysts, South Korean and American officials said that North Korea appeared to be restoring Tunnel number 3 at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. The site was used for underground nuclear blasts before it was shut down in 2018 amid denuclearisation talks with South Korea and the United States, news agency Reuters reported.
> A report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said on Thursday that commercial satellite imagery from Monday showed construction of new buildings, movement of lumber, and increase in equipment and supplies immediately outside the new entrance to Tunnel number 3.
> Meanwhile, some experts told the news agency AP on Saturday that North Korea may try to conduct a new nuclear test sometime between the inauguration of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol on May 10 and his planned summit with US President Joe Biden on May 21.
(With inputs from Reuters, AP)