1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea warns it would use nuclear weapons if attacked

April 5, 2022

Kim Jong Un's sister has said a preemptive attack on North Korea would be an "unimaginably terrible disaster." Her comments come as Seoul's defense minister said the South's missile strike capabilities had improved.

A stinger missile battery
A US stinger missile battery during live fire exercises in South KoreaImage: KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said on Tuesday that Pyongyang would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if South Korea attacked. 

Her comments appear to be in response to South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook's recent statement that South Korea's military has a variety of missiles with significantly improved range, accuracy and power, having "the ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea."

In her statement, Kim said Pyongyang opposes war, since it would leave the Korean peninsula in ruins, and does not view South Korea as its principal enemy.

North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, reported that Kim called the South Korean defense minister a "lunatic," and said it was a "very big mistake" to discuss a preemptive attack on North Korea.

"In case South Korea opts for military confrontation with us, our nuclear combat force will have to inevitably carry out its duty," said Kim, who is a senior advisor to her brother. 

Kim said their nuclear forces primarily served as a deterrent, but were capable of "eliminating the enemy's armed forces at a strike."

South Korean forces will face a "miserable fate little short of total destruction and ruin" and an "unimaginably terrible disaster" if the military violates North Korean territory, she added.

Tensions rise between the Koreas 

North Korea had halted its long range and missile testing after dual summits between Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump in 2019.

However, the summits failed to yield the desired "denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula, and there are concerns the North will resume testing nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017 as negotiations stall.

The North has also carried out more than a dozen missile tests since the start of 2022, including a recent launch of a powerful intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting targets anywhere in the US. North Korea is forbidden by international sanctions from testing ballistic missiles. 

Conservative South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has promised to take a tougher stance on relations with the North, in a turnaround from outgoing liberal President Moon Jae-in's policy of seeking rapprochement with Pyongyang. 

tg/wmr   (AFP, AP, Reuters)