North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to build an “invincible” military to tackle what he called continued US hostility.
North Korean state media Korean Central News Agency said that Kim delivered a speech at a rarely arranged Defence Development Exhibition on Monday. According to KCNA, Kim stressed that Pyongyang’s military posture was not to counter neighbouring South Korea. In an apparent swipe at the US, Kim said that there shouldn’t be another war pitting Korean people against each other.
The North Korean leader said, “The U.S. has frequently signalled it’s not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to make us believe that they are not hostile. The U.S. is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions.”
Kim stressed that Pyongyang was only increasing its military in self-defence and not to start a war. He said, “We are not discussing war with anyone, but rather to prevent war itself and to literally increase war deterrence for the protection of national sovereignty.”
Kim said, “For our descendants, we need to be strong. We need to first be strong. The military threats our country is facing is different from what we saw 10, five or three years ago.”
US “source” of instability on Korean Peninsula
The North Korean leader branded the US as a “source” of instability on the Korean Peninsula saying North Korea’s most important objective is possessing an “invincible military capability” that no one can dare challenge.
KCNA said that the exhibition marked the 76th birthday of the ruling Workers’ Party on Sunday. Photos released by the state media showed Kim walking on a red carpet lined with big missiles mounted on trucks. Kim was also shown passing by a multiple rocket launch system and watching jets flying in a formation.
South Korean officials said that it was the first of its kind since Kim took power in late 2011.
The exhibition also featured an array of newly developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles in North Korea that can target US soil.
Ever-intensifying arms race
The two Koreas have been in an accelerating arms race. In recent weeks, both have sides carried out tests of increasingly advanced short-range ballistic missiles and other military hardware.
South Korea recently test-fired its first submarine-launched ballistic missile. Seoul also plans to build major new weapons include aircraft carriers. Recently, it has also struck a deal for American-made F-35 stealth fighters.
Meanwhile, North Korea has continued to push ahead with its missile programme, despite crippling UN sanctions. Experts say that Pyongyang has launched a major expansion of its main nuclear reactor that is used to produce fuel for nuclear bombs.
North not interested in talks with the US
The US has said that it is willing to hold diplomatic talks at any time with North Korea. However, North Korea has rejected those calls saying talks will not take place until the US lifts sanction Pyongyang and halts its military activities in South Korea.
Last week, Pyongyang and Seoul reconnected their cross-border hotline in a sign of thawing ties, with only a few months left in office for the South’s pro-engagement President Moon Jae-in.
Regardless, Kim used his address to accuse South Korea of “reckless ambition” and a “two-faced, illogical” attitude.
He said that South Korea’s “unrestricted and dangerous attempts to strengthen military power are destroying the military balance on the Korean peninsula and increasing military instability and danger.”
“Under the absurd pretext of suppressing our threats, South Korea has openly expressed its desire to gain an edge over us in military power on various occasions,” the North Korean leader added.