North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to build an “invincible” military in the face of growing threats from the United States, accusing Washington of being the “root cause” of instability on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking during an exhibition of the country’s weapons on Monday, Kim said Pyongyang’s weapons development is necessary in the face of hostile policies from the United States and a military buildup in South Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
“There is no basis in their actions for believing that it is not hostile,” he said.
“We are not discussing war with anyone, but rather to prevent war itself and to literally increase war deterrence for the protection of national sovereignty,” he said, adding that the country’s enemy is “war itself.”
The North’s leader also accused South Korea of hypocrisy, but reassured that Pyongyang’s drive to build up its military isn’t targeted at the South and that there shouldn’t be another war pitting the Korean people against each other.
South Korea’s “unrestricted and dangerous” efforts to strengthen its military are “destroying the military balance on the Korean Peninsula and increasing military instability and danger,” Kim added.
“Under the absurd pretext of suppressing our threats, South Korea has openly expressed its desire to gain an edge over us in military power on various occasions,” he added.
Seoul test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time last month. The SLBM was the third and the final of three Changbogo-III Batch-I submarines that South Korea has been building using its own technology.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang said it had successfully launched a newly-developed hypersonic missile, the Hwasong-8.
At the Defense Development Exhibition on Monday, there was a variety of weapons, including the country’s largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the Hwasong-16, which had been revealed at a military parade last year. The gigantic missile is not test-fired yet.
The exhibition is part of the commemorations for the anniversary of the foundation of the ruling Workers’ Party, and included aerobatics flights and martial arts displays.
The North, which is under harsh United Nations sanctions for its missile and nuclear activities, has also been working to develop hypersonic warheads, a nuclear-powered submarine, military reconnaissance satellites and solid-fuel ICBMs, Kim said early this year.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Kim Song, North Korea’s envoy, said this month that “nobody can deny the right to self-defense for the DPRK,” calling on the United States to give up its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.
Pyongyang will continue “to develop, test, manufacture and possess the weapon systems equivalent to the ones which are possessed or being developed by them,” he said, referring to the United States and South Korea, which frequently hold joint military drills and conduct weapons tests on the Korean Peninsula.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as a 1950-53 war between them ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.