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Kim Jong Un says nuclear deterrent is ready amid tensions with US and South Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned he is ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals who he said put pressure on the Korean. Peninsula on the brink of war.

Kim’s speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War was apparently intended to strengthen internal unity in the impoverished country, which is beset with economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea is likely to intensify its threats against the United States and South Korea as its allies prepare to expand summer exercises that the North sees as an invasion rehearsal, some observers say.

“Our armed forces are fully prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power dutifully, precisely and quickly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in the speech. Wednesday, according to the official Korean government. Central Press Office.

He accused the United States of “demonizing” North Korea to justify its hostile policies. He said military exercises between the US and South Korea demonstrate the “double standards” and “gangster-like” aspects of the US, as it describes North Korea’s routine military activities – a clear reference to its missile tests – as provocations or threats. labels.

Kim also called new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol “a confrontation maniac” who has gone beyond the past South Korean leaders and said Yoon’s conservative government was led by “gangsters”. Since taking office in May, the Yoon government has taken steps to strengthen Seoul’s military alliance with the United States and strengthen its capacity to neutralize North Korean nuclear threats, including a preemptive strike capability.

“Talking about military action against our nation, which possesses absolute weapons that they fear most, is ridiculous and is very dangerous suicide action,” Kim said. “Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our mighty force and the Yoon Suk Yeol government and its army will be destroyed.”

This year, Kim is increasingly threatening his rivals with his advancing nuclear program in what some foreign experts say is an attempt to force concessions from outside and achieve greater domestic unity.

In April, Kim said North Korea could use nuclear weapons preemptively if threatened, saying they would “never be limited to the sole mission of war deterrence”. Kim’s military has also launched nuclear missiles that bring both mainland and South Korea within range.

Kim is seeking more public support as his country’s economy has been battered by pandemic-related border closures, US-led sanctions and his own mismanagement. North Korea also admitted to having had its first outbreak of the coronavirus in May, though the extent of illness and death is widely disputed in a country that lacks the modern medical capacity to deal with it.

“Kim’s rhetoric inflates external threats to justify his militarily focused and economically struggling regime,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs violate international law, but Kim is trying to portray his destabilizing weapons build-up as a just attempt at self-defense.”

North Korea has rejected offers from the US and South Korea to resume talks, saying its rivals must first abandon their hostile policies toward the north, in a clear reference to US-led sanctions and US-led sanctions. South Korean military exercises.

South Korea’s defense ministry said last week that summer military exercises with the United States would include field training for the first time since 2018, along with existing computer-simulated table-top exercises.

In recent years, the South Korean and US militaries have canceled or reduced some of their regular exercises due to concerns about the virus and to support the now-stalled US-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. in exchange for economic and political benefits.

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