North Korea’s Kim Says Nuclear Deterrent Is Ready, Slams South’s Yoon

SEOUL, July 28 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country was ready to mobilize its nuclear deterrent and counter any U.S. military confrontation, and criticized South Korea’s new president for the first times, warning that Seoul was pushing to the brink. of war.

Kim made the remarks during a speech at an event marking the 69th anniversary of the July 27 Korean War armistice, which left the two Koreas technically still at war, according to the state news agency. KCNA Thursday.

The confrontation with the United States has posed nuclear threats since the 1950-53 war and forced the North to perform an “urgent historic task” of strengthening its self-defense, Kim said.

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“Our armed forces are fully prepared to respond to any crisis, and our nation’s nuclear war deterrent is also fully prepared to mobilize its absolute force with fidelity, precision and speed for its mission,” he said.

Kim also denounced South Korea’s conservative new president Yoon Suk-yeol by name for the first time, accusing him of threatening the North’s security and its right to self-defense.

Yoon’s office expressed deep regret over Kim’s “threatening” remarks, saying South Korea is capable of responding “strongly and effectively” to any provocation at any time.

“We once again urge North Korea to take the path of dialogue to achieve substantial denuclearization and peace,” Yoon’s spokeswoman Kang In-sun said at a press briefing. .

Kim’s speech came after officials in Seoul and Washington said Pyongyang had completed preparations to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

South Korea’s unification minister for inter-Korean affairs said on Tuesday there was a ‘possibility’ of testing around the armistice anniversary, although a military official said he would not. there were no immediate signs.

North Korea faces tougher sanctions, including measures targeting its cyberattack capabilities if it continues the test, South Korea’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. Read more

In his speech, Kim said Washington was continuing “dangerous and unlawful hostile acts” against the North and sought to justify its behavior by “demonizing” the country.

The North has long accused the United States of double standards on military activities and pursuing a hostile policy towards Pyongyang, saying it is hampering the resumption of talks aimed at dismantling the country’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief.

“The U.S. Duplex Act, which misleads all routine actions of our armed forces as ‘provocation’ and ‘threat’ while staging large-scale joint military exercises that seriously threaten our security, is literally a robbery,” Kim said. .

“It’s driving bilateral relations to the point where it’s hard to go back, into a state of conflict.”

“ABSOLUTE WEAPON”

Kim also said the Yoon administration’s ‘warmongers’ and ‘disgusting thugs’ are determined to carry out confrontational military activities, pointing the finger at Seoul’s weapons developments and working to bring back US strategic nuclear assets. as well as allied military exercises.

Their “heinous confrontational policy” towards the North and their “treacherous and treacherous acts” are pushing the situation to the brink of war, he said.

In recent months, North Korea has tested hypersonic missiles and missiles it says could carry tactical nuclear weapons, cutting the time Seoul would have to respond to an impending attack.

Yoon has pledged to complete the so-called “Kill Chain” system which calls for preemptive strikes against the North’s missiles and possibly its leaders if an imminent attack is detected.

But that system could never cover “the absolute weapon of the North”, Kim said.

“Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by a strong force, and Yoon Suk-yeol’s government and its army will be wiped out,” he said.

Seoul’s defense ministry said it would continue to build its own capabilities and the United States’ extensive deterrence, including its nuclear umbrella, to better respond to threats from Pyongyang.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul University of North Korean Studies, said Kim’s remarks appear to be aimed at underscoring the legitimacy of weapons development and his “eye-for-eye” approach to Washington and Seoul.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Richard Pullin, Michael Perry and Tomasz Janowski

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