SEOUL – Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Wednesday that he is ready to deploy nuclear deterrence forces in the event of any military conflict with the United States, amid signs that Pyongyang may conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying during a July 27 speech on the 69th anniversary of the Korean War. Kim said the conflict with the United States posed nuclear threats because the conflict meant North Korea had to fulfill an “urgent historic task” by strengthening its defenses.
He continued, “Our armed forces are fully prepared to meet any crisis and our nuclear deterrence forces are fully prepared to use their full power to accomplish their mission faithfully, accurately and promptly.”
Kim attacked the government of South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol, saying its efforts to preempt North Korea would be met with severe retaliation and “annihilation.” “I make it clear again that North Korea is fully prepared for any military confrontation with the United States,” he added.
Kim’s remarks came after officials in Seoul and Washington said Pyongyang had completed preparations for its first nuclear test since 2017.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which is responsible for inter-Korean affairs, said on Tuesday there was a “possibility” of a test on the anniversary, although military officials said there were no immediate signs of that.
North Korea has tested hypersonic missiles and missiles in recent months, which it says are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, reducing Seoul’s time to respond to a potential attack.
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