North Korea is ready to mobilise its nuclear forces, leader Kim Jong-un has claimed.
Speaking at a Korean War anniversary event, Kim said boosting North Korea’s defence is an “urgent historical task” adding that the country was “fully ready for any military confrontation” with the US, state news agency KCNA reported.
The comments come amid concern that North Korea could be preparing a seventh nuclear test, which the US warned last month could happen at any time.
North Korea’s most recent nuclear test was in 2017. But tensions have been rising on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year – 31 compared to 25 during the whole of its last record-breaking year, 2019, according to the US special representative to North Korea Sung Kim.
In June South Korea responded by launching eight missiles of its own.
Although the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, North Korea claims it as a victory against the US. The annual “Victory Day” celebrations are marked by military parades, fireworks and dancing.
In his speech to mark the event on Wednesday, July 27, Kim said nuclear threats from the US required North Korea to achieve the “urgent historical task” of beefing up its self-defence.
The US had misrepresented North Korea’s regular military exercises as provocations, he added.
Kim also addressed reports that South Korea is planning to counter the North Korean nuclear threat by mounting precautionary strikes in the event of an imminent attack.
Kim said that South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol’s government and military would be “obliterated” if he carried out pre-emptive strikes.
Since taking office in May, South Korean President Yoon has laid out a new, more aggressive defence policy towards North Korea. It would allow South Korean forces to pre-emptively strike the North, if Seoul believes it is under imminent threat of a nuclear attack from Pyongyang.
This so-called “Kill Chain” strategy proposed by South Korea would allow South Korea to launch pre-emptive ballistic missiles and air strikes on North Korean targets, including taking out the North Korean military command and control structures. In other words, attempting to kill Kim Jong-Un himself.