North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to launch three new military spy satellites, build attack drones and expand the country’s nuclear materials in 2024, according to state media reports.
In remarks made at the end of the ruling Workers’ Party meeting over the weekend, Kim railed against the “vicious” moves of the U.S. and its followers for working against North Korea, claiming the U.S. has helped push the Korean Peninsula to the “brink of a nuclear war,” according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“Because of reckless moves by the enemies to invade us, it is a fait accompli that a war can break out at any time on the Korean Peninsula,” Kim said, per KCNA.
The North Korean leader pointed to the the increase in joint military exercises by the U.S., Japan and South Korea and the deployment of U.S. military assets including bombers over the past year, arguing they show the U.S. “aims at the military confrontation” with North Korea “at any cost.”
The U.S., alongside South Korea, has maintained that the countries will continue to wage a joint defense against North Korea’s threats.
Kim vowed to launch three reconnaissance satellites in 2024, a declaration that comes nearly a month after the country launched its first reconnaissance satellite in November, KCNA said. The U.S. said that launch was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Kim later emphasized the need to create a “reliable foundation” to make more nuclear weapons and ordered officials to boost the North’s submarine capabilities and to develop unmanned combat equipment, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Observers told the AP that Kim expressed the belief that boosted nuclear abilities could give him the opportunity for diplomacy with the U.S. and that his country could be given sanctions relief if former President Trump wins the presidency in 2024.
Trump memorably met with Kim during his presidency, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so in a move that critics said bestowed too much of an honor on Kim.
The Biden administration has expressed openness to diplomacy talks while leveling sanctions in the wake of the North’s continued missile tests that violate United Nations resolutions.
“Pyongyang might be waiting out the U.S. presidential election to see what its provocations can buy it with the next administration,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, per Reuters and the AP.
“The Kim regime has closed the political door on denuclearization negotiations but could offer rhetorical restraint and a testing freeze in exchange for sanctions relief,” Easley said. “Although North Korea has no intention of giving up nuclear weapons, it might try to extract payment for acting like a so-called responsible nuclear power.”
Diplomacy talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down in 2019 over the amount of sanctions relief the North could get for partly surrendering its nuclear program. Since then, Kim has aimed to modernize the North’s nuclear supply through efforts including an increased production of plutonium and uranium.
Experts said Kim likely believes Trump, if reelected to the White House, may make concessions over sanctions relief as the U.S. gears its focus on the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars, per the AP.
Kim also used his remarks to further dig into South Korea, calling the country a “a hemiplegic malformation and colonial subordinate state” with a society “tainted by Yankee culture,” per the AP.
He further ordered the military to prepare to “pacify the entire territory of South Korea,” including through the use of nuclear bombs if needed, in response to attacks, Reuters reported.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry later condemned Kim’s remarks and emphasized the country will attempt to curb North Korean threats by having a strong alliance with the U.S., the news wire added.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.