North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warns of nuclear war, orders military to get ready for possible U.S.-led invasion
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has raised the specter of nuclear war as he ordered his military to get ready to defend their country from a possible invasion, according to recent state media reports.
In a speech marking the country’s Navy Day, Kim slammed the trilateral naval exercise conducted by the United States, South Korea and Japan, adding that the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been made unstable “with the danger of a nuclear war,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.
“The prevailing situation requires our Navy to put all its efforts into rounding off the war readiness to maintain the constant combat alertness and get prepared to break the enemy’s will for war in contingency,” Kim said. (Related: North Korea scrambles fighter jets after U.S. spy plane enters its economic zone.)
The U.S. and South Korean militaries have also been conducting separate bilateral exercises in recent weeks to address North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats.
North Korea views such joint exercises as rehearsals for invasion, while the U.S. and its partners maintain that their drills are mainly for defensive purposes only.
Kim referred to President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as “the gang bosses” of the three countries. Kim criticized the U.S. for conducting naval drills with its allies and deploying strategic assets in the region. He also cited a recent summit between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, during which they agreed to enhance defense cooperation against North Korea’s nuclear program.
Tensions rise as military posturings continue
In response to the situation, Kim called for the North Korean Navy to be on constant combat alert and prepared to deter any enemy aggression.
In Washington, South Korea’s ambassador to the U.S., Cho Hyundong, said that Kim’s rhetoric would not deter efforts to improve relations between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. He emphasized that continued provocations by North Korea would only strengthen trilateral security cooperation.
The trilateral naval exercises involving South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are designed to enhance coordination in detecting, tracking and sharing information about potential North Korean missile threats. The U.S. and South Korea had initiated bilateral drills earlier in August, which included field exercises.
On Aug. 29, the drills in international waters off South Korea’s southern Jeju island involved naval destroyers from the three countries. The training was aimed at mastering procedures for detecting, tracking and sharing information about incoming North Korean missiles, according to South Korea’s Navy.
North Korea often responds to U.S.-South Korean military drills with missile tests. Since the start of 2022, North Korea has conducted numerous weapons tests, including nuclear-capable missiles designed to target the U.S., South Korea and Japan.
The ongoing tensions have led to an expansion of military exercises, trilateral training and increased visibility of U.S. strategic assets in the Korean Peninsula.
Kim has been actively pursuing the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and advanced weapons systems. During his Navy Day speech, he indicated plans to equip military units with new weaponry, suggesting the deployment of new nuclear-capable missiles in the Navy and other branches of the military.
The event also featured Kim’s daughter, who made her first public appearance in several months. South Korean officials have not confirmed her as Kim’s heir but believe he may be using her appearances to signal the possibility of a future hereditary power transfer in North Korea.
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