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Kim Jong Un

This undated handout released from the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency on April 17, 2022 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing the test-fire of a new-type tactical guided weapon in North Korea.(Photo: STR/KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Images)

Kim Repeatedly Signals North Korea Could 'Preemptively' Use Nuclear Weapons

One expert said his commentary "suggests that new weapons testing rather than dialogue with South Korea or the U.S. is on the horizon."

Jessica Corbett

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggested multiple times this week that his government could "preemptively" use nuclear weapons in response to threats, state media revealed Saturday.

Korean Central News Agency reported that at some point after a major military parade in Pyongyang on Monday, Kim met with the commanding officers of the Korean People's Army at the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee building "to encourage them."

According to the state news agency, the nation's leader noted that "in the present world, where a force clashes with the other fiercely and one can preserve one's dignity, rights, and interests only when one gets stronger, the tremendous offensive power, the overwhelming military muscle that no force in the world can provoke, is the lifeline guaranteeing the security of our country and people and the future of posterity."

Expressing the committee's "firm will to surely maintain the absolute superiority of the revolutionary armed forces and constantly develop them to preemptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary, he stressed the need for the commanding officers to boldly open up a new stage of development of the revolutionary armed forces, steadfastly adhering to the army-building orientation and general line of the party," KCNA continued.

Kim's comments to military leaders aligned with his speech to a crowd of troops and parade attendees on Monday. He said in part:

To cope with the rapidly-changing political and military situations and all the possible crises of the future, we will advance faster and more dynamically along the road of building up the self-defensive and modern armed forces, which we have followed unwaveringly, and, especially, will continue to take measures for further developing the nuclear forces of our state at the fastest possible speed.

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.

If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission.

The Associated Press pointed out that during the parade, "the North showcased the biggest weapons in its nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the U.S. homeland," and "also rolled out a variety of shorter-range solid-fuel missiles designed to be fired from land vehicles or submarines, which pose a growing threat to South Korea and Japan."

Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington, D.C. broke down during the Trump administration and have not resumed since U.S. President Joe Biden took office last year.

Jalina Porter, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, told the AP that the Biden administration is aware that North Korea could be planning a nuclear test and urges the country "to refrain from further destabilizing activity and instead engage in serious and sustained dialogue."

Writing for Common Dreams earlier this year, Colleen Moore of Women Cross DMZ argued that the Biden administration "is squandering" its opportunity to close the final chapter of the Cold War "by continuing the same playbook that has failed for decades and resulted in a nuclear-armed North Korea: ramping up military deployments, adding more crippling sanctions, and continuing hostile rhetoric."

"To lower the chance of renewed military conflict and work toward lasting peace in Korea," she added, "the Biden administration must not only sign an end-of-war declaration but also reorient policy toward diplomacy and peace."

Women Cross DMZ and various other organizations sent a letter to Biden this week calling for an overhaul of U.S. sanctions that harm civilians worldwide.

"In North Korea, U.S. sanctions and travel restrictions have hindered urgently needed humanitarian aid and restricted the work of humanitarian assistance groups and private charities that provide a lifeline for some 13 million North Koreans," they wrote.

"With North Korea potentially facing a major humanitarian crisis," the groups added, "U.S. sanctions will impede a timely response to urgent needs for the most vulnerable populations of the country when North Korea re-opens their borders."

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