Kim Jong Un Shows Off Expanding Array of Missiles to Hit U.S.
(Bloomberg) -- Kim Jong Un showed off his increasingly varied arsenal of missiles designed to frustrate U.S. defense systems, in a rare display that appeared to be the North Korean leader’s latest effort to break a diplomatic stalemate over his nuclear program.
Blaming the U.S. for “creating regional tension with wrong decisions and action,” Kim vowed at a defense forum Monday to keep expanding his nuclear weapons program, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. Photos of the so-called Self-Defense 2021 gathering released by state media showed Kim speaking in a large hall flanked by missiles, including at least two previously seen intercontinental ballistic missiles and a weapon similar to the “hypersonic” glider debuted last month.
The unusual indoor display of military might came a day after the anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, an occasion when Kim’s regime has often paraded new weaponry through Pyongyang. One of the two ICBMs featured in the hall with Kim -- the world’s largest such road-mobile rocket -- was revealed to the world at a military parade to mark the same holiday last year.
The event once again demonstrated Kim’s flair for surprising observers by breaking with routine and tradition. The absence of any parade preparations this year had fueled speculation that North Korea might let the holiday pass without provocations.
But Kim called Monday’s indoor event a “striking manifestation of the state power as important as a large-scale military parade,” according to KCNA. Allied intelligence authorities were analyzing the weapons displayed, a South Korean defense ministry spokesman told a regular news briefing Tuesday in Seoul.
He also continued his regime’s recent trend of trying to project strength toward the U.S. while signaling openness to South Korea’s peace overtures before President Moon Jae-in leaves office next year. The strategy appeared designed to leverage Moon’s desire to cement his legacy with a peace deal to either secure sanctions relief or drive wedge between South Korea and the U.S.
The U.S. and North Korea have been locked in a stalemate over his nuclear program, since former President Donald Trump rejected Kim’s demands for relief from international sanctions in 2019. Although Kim accused Seoul of being “hypocritical” for attempting to boost its own military capabilities, he said his weapons weren’t aimed at South Korea.
“Our enemy is war itself, not a certain country or forces like South Korea and the U.S.,” Kim said, according to state media. “But our external efforts for peace does not in any way mean giving up our rights to self-defense.”
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