Kim Jong-un Doubles Down on Nuclear Threat

IDEA – It should be clear: North Korea has nuclear weapons not only for defensive deterrence but, according to Kim Jong-un, in response to any threat to North Korea and its leadership. this.

Kim made these comments on April 25order Parade in Pyongyang, 90th Anniversaryorder Commemorating the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Kim then doubled down on April 30, as North Korean state media reported, warning that Pyongyang could pre-emptively use its nuclear weapons against hostile forces.

This is an important paradigm shift for North Korea. In nearly 30 years of negotiations with North Korea, their message has been consistent: Their nuclear weapons are for deterrence, for self-defence, never to be used against the United States or any other country. . Kim’s recent statements have made it clear that their nuclear weapons can be used for offensive purposes, including using it against any threat.

Mr. Kim is sending the United States and South Korea a message: The ban on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear tests is over, and we will build more nuclear weapons and missiles. to bring them all the way to the United States. . The 13 missiles launched this year include the massive Hwasong-17, capable of reaching the entire United States, the Hypersonic ballistic missile capable of defeating missile defenses, short-range solid fuel and rockets cruise missiles threaten South Korea and Japan, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This is an overt part of North Korea’s nuclear program. What we are not seeing is the continued production of the nuclear weapons fissile material that these missiles are capable of delivering.

It is likely that North Korea will conduct its seventh nuclear test within the next few weeks. The most recent test, in 2017, was considered a successful fusion test. And work continues at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site that was partially closed and dismantled in 2018, during the Trump-Kim summits and North Korea’s goodwill gesture aimed at reining in any further nuclear attacks. nuclear test and ICBM. However, that did not stop North Korea from testing short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, an existential threat to our allies in South Korea and Japan and to Guam.

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On May 10orderPresident-elect Yoon Suk-Yeol will be sworn in as the new president of South Korea, replacing Moon Jae-in. Yoon, a conservative member of the People’s Power Party, narrowly defeated his liberal opponent from the Democratic Party, Lee Jae-Myung. Yoon has made it clear that his focus will be on a close strategic alliance with the United States and improved relations with Japan. The message to North Korea is equally clear: Complete and verifiable denuclearization is the goal, and sanctions will not be lifted until North Korea moves toward denuclearization. Undoubtedly, Yoon’s comment about a pre-emptive strike when the South detected signs of a launch (missile) from the North also caught Pyongyang’s attention. Earlier in April, Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, criticized South Korea’s Defense Minister, Suh Wook, for publicly talking about pre-emptive strikes on North Korea, which were carried out. appeared after North Korea launched the Hwasong-17 on March 24, ending the North Korean offensive. 4 years ban on ICBM launch.

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war in Ukraine caught Kim Jong-un’s attention. In 1994, Ukraine gave up more than 1,900 nuclear warheads to Russia, in exchange for security guarantees from Russia, the United States and Britain. That agreement, the Budapest Memorandum on Guarantees of Security, clearly did not stop Russia from invading and annexing Crimea in 2014 and capturing part of the Donbas region, southeast of Ukraine. It certainly did not prevent Russia from invasion and war in 2022 with Ukraine, an independent and sovereign country willing to give up its nuclear weapons for so-called security guarantees – a commitment that Russia brazenly ignored.

So assuming we bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, it would prove much harder to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons that would make North Korea safer and more prosperous. Our negotiators will have to be flexible and creative, with the goal of building trust and confidence that the path to normal relations with the United States will provide North Korea with security guarantees and economic development opportunities that a North Korea heavily sanctioned for its nuclear weapons would not have. But it’s a long way from here, especially now, when all signs show that North Korea has abandoned the talks and is determined to build more nuclear weapons and stick with China. and Russia.

China’s special ambassador to the Korean Peninsula, Ambassador Liu Xiaoqing, arrived in Seoul on Sunday to attend meetings with officials in the Moon Jae-in government and the incoming Yoon Suk administration. -yeol. At an impromptu press conference, Liu said the United States and North Korea are responsible for resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and that China and South Korea are important cooperative partners in finding a solution. political law.

It is hoped that, in separate discussions in Seoul, Liu will also talk about China’s efforts to get North Korea to return to talks with the United States unconditionally and to refrain from missile and nuclear tests. complementary. A China that supplies North Korea with more than 90% of its crude oil and petroleum products and over 90% of its foreign trade has the leverage to succeed – if it tries.

Ignoring nuclear developments with North Korea is not an option. Like it or not, North Korea is a priority issue that must be addressed – by China, the United States, South Korea and Japan, and the international community. When a nuclear-armed country like Russia puts their nuclear forces on high alert, we are precisely concerned. When Kim Jong-un talks about preemptive use of nuclear weapons, we should also be worried.

This article by Crypto Expert Ambassador Joe DeTrani was first published in Washington Times

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