Roving Periscope: “Annihilate the US, S. Korea….if provoked,” Kim orders N. Korean army!
New Delhi: North Korea’s dynastic dictator Kim Jong Un, viewed as China’s convenient proxy, opened the New Year 2024 with an order to his military to “thoroughly annihilate the United States and South Korea”—if provoked.
As he usually does, Kim is likely to ramp up weapons tests in 2024 ahead of the US presidential election in November this year, the media reported on Monday.
He ordered his military to “thoroughly annihilate” the United States and South Korea if provoked, state-controlled media reported him after he vowed to boost national defenses to cope with what he claimed was an unprecedented US-led confrontation.
Some experts say he likely believes his expanded nuclear arsenal would allow him to wrest some US concessions if former President Donald Trump is re-elected this year.
In a five-day major ruling party meeting in the last week of December, Kim said he will launch three more military spy satellites, produce more nuclear materials, and develop attack drones this year in what observers say is an attempt to increase his leverage in future diplomacy with the US.
Addressing commanding army officers on Sunday, Kim said it is urgent to sharpen “the treasured sword” to safeguard national security, an apparent reference to his country’s nuclear weapons program. He cited “the US and other hostile forces’ military confrontation moves”, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Kim stressed that “our army should deal a deadly blow to thoroughly annihilate them by mobilizing all the toughest means and potentialities without moment’s hesitation” if they opt for military confrontation and provocations against North Korea, KCNA said.
Experts say small-scale military clashes between North and South Korea could happen this year along their heavily armed border. North Korea may also test-launch intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the mainland US and other major new weapons.
In 2018-19, Kim met Trump in three rounds of talks on North Korea’s expanding nuclear arsenal. The diplomacy fell apart after the US rejected Kim’s limited offer to dismantle his main nuclear complex in exchange for extensive reductions in US-led sanctions.
Estimates of the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal vary, ranging from about 20-30 bombs to more than 100. Many foreign experts say Pyongyang still has some technological hurdles to overcome to produce functioning nuclear-armed ICBMs. However, its shorter-range nuclear-capable missiles can reach South Korea and Japan.