North Korea’s communist dictator Kim Jong-un declared in a speech on Wednesday that his regime is “fully ready” to deploy its “nuclear deterrent,” meaning its illegal nuclear bombs, if necessary against the United States and its allies.
Kim affirmed that North Korean-American relations under leftist President Joe Biden, who he did not name, were at a “limiting point, a point of fierce collision, which cannot be reversed any further,” and vowed to “confront the U.S. imperialists to the end.”
In the same speech, delivered to mark the anniversary of the Korean War armistice that ended active hostilities in 1953, Kim also threatened the “military ruffians” and “gangsters” of South Korea, currently under the administration of conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol, stating that they would “pay dearly” if they continued to maintain ties to the United States and “threaten” North Korea by training their military and maintaining a free society.
“Our armed forces are now fully prepared to cope with any sort of crisis, and our state’s nuclear war deterrent is also fully ready to demonstrate its absolute power accurately and promptly true to its mission,” Kim Jong-un said in his address, according to the English-language translation by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist regime’s official news service.
The United Nations granted North Korea one of several rotating chairmanships this year on its Conference on Disarmament, meant to discuss the eradication of nuclear weapons.
Kim’s message was intended for both the United States and South Korea, Pyongyang’s enemies in the Korean War. While the active phase of the Korean War lasted between 1950 and 1953, neither side signed a peace treaty or surrendered, meaning North Korea and its ally, China, are still technically at war with America and South Korea. The North nonetheless celebrates the anniversary of the armistice agreement as “Victory Day” in a war that never ended.
Kim referred to the armistice, which did not result in victory for either side or a concrete end to the war, as “a victory of justice and the progressive over injustice and the reactionary, and a victory of significance in human history, which proved the iron truth that no aggressors, however strong and superior they may be, cannot overwhelm an army and people that have turned out in a do-or-die resistance.”
“The United States which did our nation the gravest harm in its modern history still perseveres with dangerous hostile acts against our Republic,” Kim claimed elsewhere in his remarks. “The United States, while describing all the usual actions of our armed forces as ‘provocations’ and ‘threats,’ is openly waging large-scale joint war games, which gravely threaten the security of our state.”
“Such a double-dealing behaviour is just that of a gangster, and this is driving the DPRK [North Korea]-US relations to a limiting point, a point of fierce collision, which cannot be reversed any further,” Kim warned, without elaborating.
Reuters, which appeared to independently translate the Korean-language text of the speech, rendered this sentence as, “the duplex act of the United States, which is misleading all the routine actions of our armed forces as ‘provocation’ and ‘threat’ while holding large-scale joint military exercises that seriously threaten our security, is literally a robbery.”
“The arrogant nature of the US imperialists has remained unchanged as ever. We must confront the US imperialists to the end on the strength of ideology and arms,” Kim urged.
The remarks were the first high-profile address of its kind from the totalitarian ruler since the anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s communist armed forces in April. Kim had personally largely abstained from taking such a belligerent tone since Biden became president, opting instead to deploy his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to issue public statements threatening both Biden and South Korea.
In April’s speech, Kim urged North Koreans to prepare for nuclear war and the military, in particular, to “be fully prepared to fulfil[l] their responsible mission and put their unique deterrent in motion at any time.” He did not definitively state, however, that those weapons were ready, as he did this week.
South Korean officials have been warning for much of the year that their evidence suggests that North Korea may soon conduct a new nuclear test, which it has not since 2017. The majority of North Korea’s tests were conducted while current president Joe Biden was vice president. No evidence indicates that Pyongyang has actually staged such a test this year at press time.
Kim Jong-un did claim to develop a new weapon this year: an alleged intercontinental ballistic missile his government dubbed the “Hwasongpho-17,” debuted in a flashy media campaign in March featuring Kim wearing a leather jacket and posing in front of the large weapon, apparently in a style taking inspiration from the American Top Gun film series.
Kim’s speech this week was also notable as the first address Kim had delivered since Pyongyang admitted in May to confirming cases of Chinese coronavirus on its soil. Prior to May, the country – which borders the origin location of the virus, China, and major outbreak hubs Russia and South Korea – claimed to have documented zero cases of the disease within its borders for over two years. The Kim regime’s attempts to procure coronavirus vaccine products and shutdown of its border, particularly with China, suggested to many experts that the claim of not having documented any cases in the country was untrue.
North Korean officials have since claimed to have subdued the outbreak, though Kim referenced the pandemic on multiple occasions during his speech and implored listeners to stay healthy.
“The country’s situation is difficult and recently we have experienced a public health crisis, but until today you have maintained sound in your precious bodies. I am very grateful for this,” Kim told his audience, adding towards the end of the speech, “even if you do nothing more than remain healthy, that will be a great encouragement to us.”
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