North Korea: Kim Jong-un Demands ‘Exponential Increase of the Country’s Nuclear Arsenal’
Communist dictator Kim Jong-un of North Korea used his party’s end-of-year meeting to make a call for “an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal” through the “mass-producing of tactical nuclear weapons,” state media revealed on Sunday.
The regime-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a summary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea’s (WPK) year-end plenary meeting, held from December 26-31, on Sunday, detailing what it described as a “report” delivered by Kim to Party elders. KCNA noted that Kim explicitly stated that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not strictly defensive weapons and are necessary to “firmly safeguard the Republic’s absolute dignity, sovereignty and right to existence.”
North Korea, alongside ally China, has been at war with neighboring South Korea and its ally, America, since 1950 – a war that ceased active hostilities in 1953. Kim and his predecessors, father Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, have all intermittently entertained “denuclearization” and peace talks, but to no avail. Kim Jong-un allegedly proclaimed a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” during his meeting with former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018, but the document in which he stated that did not define “denuclearization.” The North Korean regime typically uses the term to mean the removal of American nuclear weapons from South Korea, not an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Kim Jong-un formally outlawed any discussion of denuclearization of his country in September.
Trump held two formal meetings with Kim during his presidency, which resulted in no significant policy changes. Current President Joe Biden has mostly not acted on the Korean peninsula issue and Pyongyang has largely ignored his existence outside of occasional threats to America from Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, herself a top WPK official.
In this context, Kim Jong-un used the plenary meeting to bring his country into 2023 with the aspiration of a much larger nuclear arsenal to intimidate, and potentially attack, enemies with. At the meeting, according to KCNA, Kim delivered a report noting that he had ordered the development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM) to perfect a “quick nuclear counterstrike” in addition to calling for more bombs.
“Now that the south [sic] Korean puppet forces who designated the DPRK [North Korea] as their ‘principal army’ and openly trumpet about ‘preparations for war’ have assumed our undoubted enemy,” KCNA paraphrased Kim as saying at the meeting, “it highlights the importance and necessity of a mass-producing of tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal.”
“Stressing the importance of bolstering the nuclear force, the report made clear that our nuclear force considers it as the first mission to deter war and safeguard peace and stability,” KCNA continued, “and, however, if it fails to deter, it will carry out the second mission, which will not be for defense.”
The same day as the last day of the meeting, Kim attended a ceremony to honor the incorporation of a new “super-large multiple launch rocket system” into the North Korean military, emphasizing its nuclear uses.
“That military hardware,” Kim was quoted as saying in a speech at the ceremony, “has a high capability of overcoming complicated terrain conditions, great manoeuvrability and an ability to conduct a surprise and precision launch of multiple rockets in terms of military technology.”
“And as it has south [sic] Korea as a whole within the range of strike and is capable of carrying tactical nuclear warhead,” he concluded, “it will discharge in future the combat mission of overpowering the enemy as a core, offensive weapon of our armed forces.”
In addition to belligerent talk of North Korea’s nuclear progress, the country’s state propaganda arms have increasingly begun to use a new moniker for Kim: “Respected Fatherly Marshal Kim Jong-un,” a title emphasizing his own status as father and used in articles noting that he began the year meeting with members of the “Korean Children’s Union,” children the regime uses to advance its political aims.
Kim began his rebrand as the country’s most important father late last year with the public debut of his “beloved” daughter in state media. The girl, believed to be about 12 years old, appeared in KCNA photos for the first time alongside her father in November during the launch of an allegedly new line of ICBMs. KCNA did not name her, though her name is believed to be Kim Ju-ae, according to professional basketball player and Kim family friend Dennis Rodman.
In a separate November appearance alongside his daughter, Kim promised to make North Korea the “world’s strongest” nuclear force, a display that observers in South Korea and elsewhere interpreted as a message to the world that North Korea would be in capable Kim family hands long after Kim Jong-un’s death and his daughter was being primed to control a major power nuclear arsenal.
“By showing his daughter next to the ICBM, [Kim] is announcing to the world and his people that DPRK will never give up its nuclear program and it will be carried on throughout his lineage,” South Korean lawmaker Tae Yong-ho told the Washington Post at the time.