Seoul, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reviewed powerful missiles developed to launch nuclear strikes on the US mainland, as he vowed to build an “invincible” military to withstand continued US hostilities , state media reported on Tuesday.
In an apparent relentless attempt to crack the rift between Washington and Seoul, Kim used his speech at a rare weapons systems exhibition on Monday to emphasize that his military could not be targeted at South Korea and There should not be another war Korean people against each other.
“The US has often indicated that it is not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to lead us to believe that they are not hostile,” Kim said Monday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. ” “The US continues to create tension in the region with its wrong decisions and actions.”
Describing the United States as a “source” of instability on the Korean peninsula, Kim said his country’s foremost objective was to have an “unstoppable military capability” that no one dared to challenge.
According to Seoul officials, KCNA says the exhibition was on Sunday to mark the ruling Workers’ Party’s 76th birthday, the first of its kind since Kim came to power in late 2011. North Korean photos show Kim, in a dark suit, walking the red carpet with large missiles mounted on trucks, passing multiple rocket launch systems and jets flying in a formation.
Experts say the exhibition showcased a range of newly developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, which North Korea has already test-launched or demonstrated during military parades in recent years.
Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the weapons in the photos appeared to be a new ICBM that North Korea uncovered during a military parade last year, but has not been tested. , said Yang. The missile, which was mounted on an 11-axle launch vehicle during the parade, is believed to be the North’s largest ICBM yet.
The other weapons on display were another ICBM that North Korea tested in 2017; ballistic missiles that can be fired from submarines or trains; solid fueled, short-range missiles; and a developmental hypersonic missile that made its first test-flight last month, said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.
“Basically, North Korea wants to send this message: ‘We will continue to develop new weapons and arm ourselves with nuclear power, so don’t ban these because we can’t agree on double standards,'” Yang said. said. .
Seoul’s defense ministry said South Korean and US intelligence officials were analyzing the displayed North Korean weapons, but did not give details.
North Korea has sent mixed signals toward its rivals in recent weeks, as it resumed its missile tests after a six-month hiatus but offered conditional talks with South Korea.
During his exhibition speech, Kim accused South Korea of hypocrisy as he criticizes North Korea’s weapons development as provocation while spending heavily to enhance its military capabilities. But he still said that his army does not target South Korea.
“Let me say once again that South Korea is not what our armed forces are supposed to fight with,” Kim said. “Certainly, we are not strengthening our defense because of South Korea. We must not repeat our compatriots’ terrible history of using force against each other.”
Some experts say North Korea is attempting to use South Korea’s will to pressure the United States to persuade the North to relax economic sanctions and make other concessions.
North Korea has long sought better relations with the United States as it seeks sanctions relief and a better security environment to focus on reviving its dying economy. High-stakes diplomacy broke out between the countries in early 2019 after Americans rejected North Korea’s calls for comprehensive sanctions relief in exchange for partial disarmament steps.
The United States has recently repeatedly offered talks with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without any preconditions. Kim has called such a proposal a “cunning” attempt to hide US hostility against North Korea, as he wants Washington to ease sanctions or resume regular military exercises with Seoul before talks resume. suspend it.
Despite his recent missile tests, Kim still maintains a 2018 self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile tests directly targeting the US homeland, a sign that he is still looking for future talks with Washington. Wants to maintain survival opportunities for
In 2017, North Korea conducted three ICBM tests and claimed to have acquired the capability to strike the US mainland with nuclear missiles. Expert Lee questioned North’s claim, saying that it needed several more flight-tests to prove that it had overcome the last remaining technical hurdles such as extreme heat and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Protecting the warhead from pressure after it is fired. .
Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.