Kim of N. Korea vows to increase nuke capability during the parade

Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader, vowed to boost his nuclear forces at "maximum speeds" and threatened to use them if provoked during a speech he gave Tuesday during a military parade featuring powerful weapons systems that targeted the United States and its allies. State media reported Tuesday.

Kim of N. Korea vows to increase nuke capability during the parade

His comments suggest that he will continue to conduct provocative weapon tests as part of a pressure campaign against the U.S., and other rivals. Monday's parade was held to commemorate the 90th anniversary North Korea's army, which is the backbone under the authoritarian Kim family. It comes at a time when the country's economy is in turmoil due to pandemic-related problems and punishing U.S. sanctions as well as its own mismanagement.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim said that he would continue to implement measures aimed to strengthen and develop our country's nuclear forces at maximum speed to his troops and the crowd who gathered at a Pyongyang plaza for the parade.

Kim stated that "the fundamental mission of our nukes forces is to prevent war." However, if an unfavorable situation arises on our soil, our nuclear force cannot be restricted to the single mission of preventing war. Kim stated that if any forces attempt to infringe on our fundamental interests, no matter who they may be, our nuclear forces will not have other choice than to carry out their unexpected second mission.

Parade participants included marching troops who shouted "hurrah!" as well as a variety of modern weapons, including missiles capable of reaching the U.S. home as well as missiles with shorter ranges that can be fired from submarines or land vehicles and could threaten South Korea and Japan.

The Hwasong-17, North Korea's largest, most recent intercontinental ballistic missile was one of the weapons displayed at the Kim Il Sung Squar.

North Korea claimed that it had tested-fired the missile last month, its first full-range ICBM launch in over four years. South Korea disputed this, claiming that North Korea launched a smaller Hwasong-15 ICBM after the Hwasong-17 was unsuccessfully launched. Despite all doubts, the missile that North Korea fired on March 24 flew higher and longer than any missile it has ever launched. This shows its potential to penetrate the U.S. mainland.

KCNA reported that spectators cheered loudly when they saw Hwasong-17 at the parade. It said it showed "the absolute strength of Juche (self-reliance), Korea, and the strategic position our republic to the rest of the world."

North Korea celebrates important state anniversaries often with great fanfare in order to foster internal unity. In Tuesday's KCNA dispatch, Kim was praised for completing "the historic great cause" of completing nuclear forces. He made a long journey with patriotic devotion and a death defying will to ensure that people would forever enjoy happiness without the horrors war brings.

Kim is also reviving nuclear brinkmanship that aims to force the United States into accepting North Korea as a nuclear power and to lift crippling economic sanctions. Analysts believe North Korea is using favorable circumstances to advance its weapons program, even though the U.N. Security Council is still divided by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Since 2019, nuclear negotiations between Washington, Pyongyang and Iran have been stopped by disagreements about the possibility of easing U.S.-led sanctions in return for North Korean disarmament. Kim has not given up on his goal of simultaneously developing nuclear weapons and the country’s dismal economic in the face international pressure. He has also shown no willingness or desire to give up a nuclear arsenal that he considers his greatest guarantee of survival.

This year, North Korea conducted 13 rounds weapon tests including the launch of Hwasong-19. There are signs that North Korea is building tunnels at a nuke testing ground, which was last active in 2017. This could be in preparation to explode a nuclear device.

After a string of missile and nuclear tests, North Korea claimed that it had been able to launch nuclear strikes against the U.S. mainland. Before entering the now-dormant diplomatic relationship with the United States, the North had stopped such high-profile testing.

As nuclear negotiations with the United States have stalled, the North has focused much of its attention on expanding its short-range weaponry targeting South Korea.

Kim's aggressive military push may also be driven by domestic politics, as he doesn’t have any other significant achievements to show his people in this decade of power. Kim failed to secure the necessary sanctions relief through his diplomacy against then-President Donald Trump. The COVID-19 pandemic caused further economic shocks and forced him to admit last year that North Korea was in its " most severe-ever situation."