North Korea will “destroy” South Korea and US, Pyongyang says

The US and South Korea have strengthened their military and political collaboration as North Korea conducted a record number of weapons tests in 2023.

FILE PHOTO: A South Korean soldier stands guard in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, February 7, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has instructed his military to completely destroy South Korea and the United States should they initiate a military conflict, employing aggressive language in his latest verbal attack on Seoul and Washington.

In 2023, the two allies strengthened their military and political collaboration as North Korea conducted a record number of weapons tests, including a new solid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the launch of its first spy satellite.

During a New Year’s Eve meeting with North Korea’s top commanding officers in Pyongyang, Kim emphasized that his military should “annihilate” the enemy in case of provocation, as reported by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday.

Kim has already signaled his intention to launch three more satellites into space and enhance his country’s weapons arsenal in the coming year.

In response to potential military confrontation, Kim stated, “If the enemy chooses to engage in military conflict and provocation against the DPRK, our army must deliver a decisive blow, thoroughly annihilating them by utilizing all available means and capabilities without hesitation,” using the abbreviation of North Korea’s official name.

Kim’s remarks mirror the bellicose rhetoric from the yearend party meetings held last week.

During the five-day gathering to set the policy agenda for 2024, the North Korean leader accused the US of presenting “various forms of military threat.” Kim conveyed to the assembly that he would cease pursuing reconciliation and reunification with South Korea, citing an “uncontrollable crisis” he attributed to Seoul and Washington.

Kim also said a peaceful reunification of Korea is impossible.

In his New Year’s Day address on Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declared his intent to bolster his military’s pre-emptive strike, missile defence, and retaliatory capabilities in response to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Yoon emphasized that the Republic of Korea aims to establish a genuine, enduring peace through strength, rejecting a submissive peace dependent on the goodwill of adversaries, and using South Korea’s official name.

Pyongyang declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power in 2022 and has consistently asserted its refusal to abandon its nuclear weapons program, considering it crucial for its survival.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has issued numerous resolutions urging North Korea to cease its nuclear and ballistic missile programs since the country’s first nuclear test in 2006.

With the US scheduled for a presidential election in November, and the possibility of Donald Trump running again, analysts speculate that Kim may anticipate leveraging his expanded nuclear arsenal against the US if Trump is re-elected.

After three meetings between Kim and Trump in 2018-19, diplomatic efforts collapsed when the US rejected Kim’s proposal to dismantle his main nuclear complex, a limited step, in exchange for substantial reductions in US-led sanctions.

Since 2022, North Korea has conducted over 100 missile tests, leading the US and South Korea to expand joint military exercises. Additionally, North Korea has sought to strengthen ties with longstanding allies China and Russia, both of which thwarted attempts by the US and its UNSC partners to intensify UN sanctions on North Korea in response to its weapons tests.



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