(CNSNews.com) – North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is designed primarily to deter aggression, but if necessary, it “will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission,” Kim Jong Un said in a speech in Pyongyang on Monday night.
Kim did not elaborate on this “second mission,” but he appeared to be suggesting that his Stalinist regime does not rule out the possibility of a pre-emptive first strike under certain circumstances.
Addressing a massive military display which featured North Korea’s largest known intercontinental ballistic missile, he said the regime’s “nuclear forces, the symbol of our national strength and the core of our military power, should be strengthened in terms of both quality and scale.”
This would enable them to “perform nuclear combat capabilities in any situations of warfare,” he said.
“The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter a war, but our nukes can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent even at a time when a situation we are not desirous of at all is created on this land,” Kim said.
“If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission,” he continued.
State media on Tuesday released reports and images of the parade, which took place on Military Foundation Day – the 90th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s creation of a guerilla army to fight against the Japanese occupation of Korea.
With Kim and senior officers watching from a viewing box, the parade showcased an extensive array of weaponry (and possibly some mockups), including submarine-launched ballistic missiles, a Hwasong-8 “hypersonic” missile first tested last fall, and ICBMs.
Then, after Kim abandoned a moratorium – which was first announced on the eve of his June 2018 summit in Singapore with President Trump – the regime last month tested the new Hwasong-17, which flew higher and for longer than any previous North Korean ICBM has done.
A lengthy Korean Central News Agency report on Monday night’s parade depicted the first public appearance of the Hwasong-17 as the climax of the event.
“Amid the playing of solemn music and focusing of spotlights and display of fireworks, a great entity representing the strategic forces of the republic appeared at the square,” it said.
“At that moment the spectators raised loud cheers, greatly excited to see the giant ICBM Hwasongpho-17 which soared into sky on March 24 to demonstrate the absolute power of Juche Korea and the strategic position of our republic to the world.”
KCNA said the excited throng “extended highest glory to Kim Jong Un, great champion of justice and peace and peerless hero who has built up the national power, the greatest ever since the founding of the country.”
‘No hostile intent’
U.S. diplomacy aimed at resolving the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear programs hit a hurdle over sanctions during a second Kim-Trump summit, in Hanoi in February 2019, and then fizzled out after a third and final meeting, in the DMZ between the two Koreas in June 2019, failed to achieve progress.
In his speech Kim did not refer to negotiations or diplomacy.
He did say the armed forces were “fully prepared for any type of war” and that any enemy attempting confrontation would perish.
Kim closed by telling his troops: “As long as your hearts are pulsating with the precious blood and noble spirit of the revolutionary forerunners and as long as the revolutionary armed forces are always standing at the vanguard of the revolution as the embodiment of the ideology and will of the Workers’ Party of Korea and of the strength of our state and people, the cause of socialism of our own style will be ever-victorious in the future, too.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Kim’s remarks on nuclear weapons in the speech reinforce the U.S. assessment that North Korea “constitutes as threat to international peace and security and to the global nonproliferation regime.”
Price said the U.S. and its allies have a vital interest in deterring the regime, “to defend against its provocations or its use of force, to limit the reach of its most dangerous weapons programs, and above all, to keep safe American people in the region, our deployed forces, and our allies” including Japan and South Korea.
He said the U.S. goal remains “the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
It harbors “no hostile intent toward” the regime and remains open to dialogue and diplomacy, Price added, but would continue to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions relating to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.