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N.Korea’s Kim Says Nuclear Deterrent Is Ready, Condemns Yoon. from South

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SEOUL, July 28 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country is ready to mobilize its nuclear war deterrent and counter any US military clash, criticizing the new president for the first time of South Korea, warned that Seoul was pushing to the brink of war.

Kim made the remarks during a speech at an event marking the 69th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire on July 27, which left the two Koreas technically still at war, the official KCNA news agency said on Thursday.

The confrontation with the United States posed a nuclear threat since the 1950-53 war and required the North to have an “urgent historic task” to bolster its self-defense, Kim said.

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“Our armed forces are thoroughly prepared to respond to any crisis, and our nation’s deterrent to nuclear war is also fully poised to mobilize its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly for its mission,” he said.

Kim also first denounced South Korea’s new conservative president Yoon Suk-yeol, accusing him of threatening the security of the north and the right to self-defense.

Yoon’s office expressed deep regret at Kim’s “threatening” comments and said South Korea is able to respond “vigorously and effectively” to any provocation at any time.

“We once again urge North Korea to take the path of dialogue to achieve substantial denuclearization and peace,” Yoon spokeswoman Kang In-sun said at a briefing.

Kim’s speech came after Seoul and Washington officials said Pyongyang has finalized preparations to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

South Korea’s unification minister who handles inter-Korean affairs said on Tuesday there was an “opportunity” to test the test around the anniversary of the ceasefire, although a military official said there were no immediate signs of it.

North Korea is likely to face tougher sanctions, including measures against its cyberattack capabilities, if the test goes ahead, South Korea’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. read more

In the speech, Kim said Washington is continuing “dangerous, illegal hostile actions” against the North and is trying to justify its behavior by “demonizing” the country.

The North has long accused the United States of having double standards over military activities and conducting a hostile policy towards Pyongyang, saying it will restart talks to dismantle the country’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for relief of sanctions.

“The United States’ duplex act, which misleads all routine actions by our armed forces as ‘provocation’ and ‘threat’ while conducting large-scale joint military exercises that seriously threaten our security, is literally a heist,” Kim said. .

“That is driving bilateral relations to the point where it is difficult to return, in a state of conflict.”

‘ABSOLUTE WEAPON’

Kim also said that “war fighters” and “disgusting villains” in the Yoon government are seeking confrontational military activity, highlighting Seoul’s weapons developments and seeking to bring back US nuclear strategic assets and allied military exercises.

Their “horrific confrontational policies” toward the north and “treacherous, treacherous acts” are pushing the situation to the brink of war, he said.

North Korea has been testing hypersonic missiles and missiles that it says could carry tactical nuclear weapons in recent months, shortening the time Seoul would have to respond to an impending attack.

Yoon has vowed to complete the so-called “Kill Chain” system, which calls for preemptive strikes on the North’s missiles and possibly his leadership if an impending attack is detected.

But that system could never cover the “absolute weapon” of the north, Kim said.

“Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by a powerful force, and the government of Yoon Suk-yeol and his army will be destroyed,” he said.

Seoul’s Ministry of Defense said it would continue to strengthen its own capabilities and that the US would expand deterrence, including its nuclear umbrella to better respond to Pyongyang’s threats.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim’s comments appear to be intended to emphasize the legitimacy of weapons developments and his “eye for an eye” approach to Washington and Seoul.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Richard Pullin, Michael Perry and Tomasz Janowski

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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