North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rang in the New Year by ordering the “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal, the development of more powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the launch of its first satellite, state media reported.
While addressing a meeting of the ruling party last weekend, Kim echoed the broad direction of his nuclear weapons development program which he has repeatedly vowed to increase both the quality and quantity of North Korea’s arsenal to deal with what he describes as America’s hostility.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), at the party meeting on New Year’s Day, Kim accused the United States of seeking to isolate and stifle North Korea in ways that are “unprecedented in human history.” He said that given this “prevailing situation” with the US, North Korea is required to redouble efforts “to overwhelmingly beef up the military muscle.”
Kim also accused South Korea of being “hell-bent on imprudent and dangerous arms build-up” as it openly trumpets its preparations for war with the North. Kim said South Korea’s actions highlight the necessity of mass-producing battlefield tactical nukes and pushing for “an exponential increase” of the North’s nuclear arsenal, according to KCNA.
The North Korean leader also announced a task force tasked with developing another ICBM system “whose main mission is quick nuclear counterstrike.” Kim accused the United States of frequently deploying nuclear-capable weapons in South Korea while pushing to establish a NATO-style military bloc in the region.
Kim also announced that his country will be launching its first military reconnaissance satellite “at the earliest date possible,” saying preparations for the launch were in the final stages.
Other weaponry Kim Jong-un has on his long wish list for 2023 also include a multi-warhead missile, a more agile solid-fueled ICBM, an underwater-launched nuclear missile, and a hypersonic weapon.