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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea's Kim calls for expansion of nuclear arsenal

January 1, 2023

Kim stressed the need to secure "overwhelming military power" to defend Pyongyang's sovereignty, according to state media. His remarks came after North Korea tested yet another missile, after a year of record launches.

Kim Jong Un attending the 12th Politburo meeting of the 8th term of the Workers Party of Korea at the Party Central Committee in Pyongyang.
North Korea's Kim has claimed South Korea is engaging in provocations towards PyongyangImage: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has called for an "exponential" increase in the country's nuclear arsenal, along with the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), state media reported on Sunday. 

What did Kim Jong Un say?

According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim stressed the need to secure "overwhelming military power" to defend North Korea's sovereignty and security at a recent meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.

Kim accused South Korea of being "hell-bent on imprudent and dangerous arms build-up'' and trumpeting its preparations for war with Pyongyang.

That, the North Korean leader said, highlights the need to mass-produce battlefield tactical nuclear weapons and calls for "an exponential increase of the country's nuclear arsenal,'' KCNA reported.

Kim also said that the United States and South Korea were trying to "isolate and
stifle" the North with US nuclear strike assets constantly deployed in the South, calling it "unprecedented in human history."

He pledged to develop another ICBM system "whose main mission is quick nuclear counter-strike" under a plan to boost the country's nuclear force, KCNA said. 

New year, new launch

Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula saw a dramatic rise in 2022. 

After what was a record-breaking year for launches — capped by Pyongyang firing three short range ballistic missiles on Saturday — North Korea entered 2023 with a rare late-night launch at 2:50 am local time on Sunday, South Korea's military said. 

According to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the latest missile flew about 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) from the Ryongsong area of the North Korean capital.

The JCS called the launch  "a grave provocation'' that hurts peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and around the world.

Japan's coast guard said the missile reached an altitude of around 100 kilometers and flew around 350 kilometers. 

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tokyo had protested to Pyongyang over the test-fire via diplomatic channels in Beijing.

In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said that the launch shows "the destabilizing impact'' of Pyongyang's unlawful weapons programs.

It added that Washington's commitments to defend South Korea and Japan "remain ironclad.''

dvv/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)