Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, rang in the new year by ordering the “exponential” growth of his country’s nuclear arsenal, the creation of an improved intercontinental ballistic missile, and the launch of the country’s first spy satellite.
According to the state-run media, as reported by NBC News, Kim also said that the launch of North Korea’s first military reconnaissance satellite will happen as soon as it is possible, which means that the final plans are being made.
Last year already saw a record number of missile firings, as The Dallas Express has covered.
Kim has continuously said that he will improve the quality and number of his weapons to fight what he sees as American hostility, but this seems to have accelerated late last year after the U.S. renewed its security commitment to its allies Japan and South Korea.
The latter, according to Kim, was “hell-bent on imprudent and dangerous arms build-up” and was openly preparing to make war against him, as reported by the state-run media.
Kim’s long list of things he wants to buy includes tactical nuclear weapons and a military reconnaissance satellite.
While North Korea has tested more than 70 missiles last year, including the three short-range ballistic missiles detected by South Korea on Saturday, the nuclear capacity of the country remains unknown.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told NBC News that the recent missile firings “were not technically impressive.”
“Instead, the high volume of tests at unusual times and from various locations demonstrate that North Korea could launch different types of attack, anytime, and from many directions,” he continued.
Many experts speculate that the North Korean Leader is pushing for a greater nuclear arsenal in order to establish the country as a nuclear power, therefore gaining leverage to ease international sanctions and overall establish greater might in the face of its enemies.
According to Soo Kim, a security analyst at the California-based RAND Corporation, pointing to the U.S. and South Korea as enemies and their military drills as practice for invasion establishes “a reliable pretext for the regime to produce more missiles and weapons to solidify Kim’s negotiating position and concretize North Korea’s status as a nuclear weapons power.”
As for Kim, according to the state-run news, North Korea is the victim.
“They are now keen on isolating and stifling (North Korea), unprecedented in human history,” he said recently at a party meeting. “The prevailing situation calls for making redoubled efforts to overwhelmingly beef up the military muscle.”
The situation indeed seems to be snowballing as both sides are trading tit for tat.
In response to the North’s growing nuclear threats, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan have increased their military drills and worked together more on security. Indo-Pacific Command released a statement that referred to the U.S. promise to defend South Korea and Japan “ironclad.”
Tensions between the two nations on the Korean peninsula have gotten worse since South Korea accused North Korea of using drones to break through their heavily guarded border for the first time in five years at the end of December, as recently reported by The Dallas Express. South Korea reportedly swiftly replied by sending drones of their own across the border to gather reconnaissance.