North Korea wants to advance nuclear program – USA “main enemy”

North Korea wants to advance nuclear program - USA

© Keystone/KCNA via KNS/AP/Uncredited

Before the change of government in the USA, North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Un challenges future American President Joe Biden with new declarations of war. At the eighth congress of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, Kim called the US the “main enemy” and announced the expansion of the nuclear arsenal and new missile tests. The focus of foreign policy activities must be “to triumph over the United States and subjugate it,” said Kim, according to the state-controlled media on Saturday. He accused the USA of hostile policies.

In the first statement from the tightly closed state on the change of the US presidency, Kim said he did not expect any change in Washington’s policy towards his country. That is independent of who rules in the USA. Biden is sworn in as the new US President on January 20th. His outgoing predecessor in office Donald Trump had attempted to convince North Korea to nuclear disarmament with spectacular meetings with Kim.

With his remarks, Kim is also dampening hopes for new impulses for the deadlocked negotiations between the USA and North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. The talks have not progressed since Kim’s failed summit with Trump in February 2019 in Vietnam. In total, Kim Trump had met three times.

North Korea had insulted Trump’s political rival Biden several times in the past, calling him a “rabid dog”. Biden had called Kim a tyrant. He also criticized the way Trump was drawing closer to the communist leadership in Pyongyang.

In his nine-hour report, which he reported to state media between the start of Congress on Tuesday and Thursday, Kim discussed a number of projects to strengthen the armed forces and expand the nuclear arsenal, including “first strike” and “retaliatory” capabilities.

For years, Pyongyang has been promoting the development of missiles that not only hit South Korea and Japan, but can also carry nuclear warheads as far as the USA. It is therefore subject to tough international sanctions, which also hamper the country’s economic development. According to estimates by the American organization Arms Control Association from August 2020, there are 30 to 40 nuclear warheads in North Korea.

Kim now called for the development of tactical nuclear weapons as well as new ICBMs with solid propulsion that can be launched from the water and from the ground. Spy satellites and reconnaissance drones would also have to be introduced. Kim was quoted as saying that his country is now preparing to test and produce various weapons, including a multi-warhead missile. The plans for a new nuclear submarine are almost complete.

As a deterrent to North Korea, the USA has, in addition to its Pacific fleet – which includes several aircraft carrier associations – bases in South Korea with 28,500 soldiers and hundreds of combat aircraft. Under Trump, programs to modernize US nuclear weapons were accelerated. In the negotiations with Washington, North Korea also demanded the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from the region.

There are fears abroad that North Korea could now resume its nuclear tests. At the end of 2019, Kim said that Pyongyang was no longer bound by its test moratorium on atomic bombs and ICBMs.

Kim had made clear reference in his report to “tactical nuclear weapons”, wrote the expert Ankit Panda on Twitter. That could “indicate a return to the nuclear tests”. He described Kim’s report as “possibly one of North Korea’s most important statements about its planned high-quality nuclear modernization”. It is unclear whether the country has the means to develop the announced new weapon systems.

Kim also explained a new five-year development plan to Congress that the Party Congress should adopt. The core of the plan is “self-employment and economic independence”. At the start of the congress, Kim admitted that the goals of the old five-year plan drawn up in 2016 had not been met. Formally, the congress, which was originally supposed to take place every five years, is the party’s most important body. However, the seventh congress in May 2016 was the first in 36 years.


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