North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has announced that his country will further develop its nuclear capabilities, vowing to build up its arsenal following a flurry of weapons tests in recent months.
During a military parade on Monday night, Kim said the DPRK would “continue to take measures to strengthen and develop” its nuclear forces “at the fastest possible speed,” adding that his army could deploy its ultimate weapon at any time if threatened with attack.
“In preparation for a turbulent political and military situation and all kinds of crises in the future, we will go faster and more steadily on the road of self-defense and modern force construction,” he continued, calling to create a “new generation” of “advanced armaments.”
The statement came after a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, the guerrilla force organized by DPRK founder Kim Il-sung to combat invading Japanese troops in the 1930s.
Though US officials have warned for weeks that Pyongyang could use such a ceremonial event to test a nuclear warhead, no bomb test was announced. The DPRK has conducted six detonations since 2006, though has held to a self-imposed moratorium announced in 2017.
North Korea has carried out 13 missile tests so far this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile – its first ICBM launch since 2017 – and a new “tactical guided weapon.” It has repeatedly said such tests are meant to prepare for “confrontation” with “US imperialists.”
In response, Washington deployed an aircraft carrier strike group near the Korean coast earlier this month and has engaged in its regular joint war games with Seoul, denounced time and again as provocative by the North.
The heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula come after a few years of reduced weapons testing and military maneuvers as the result of diplomatic efforts by former President Donald Trump. Though North Korea dismantled a nuclear weapons testing site in 2018 ahead of a round of talks, the South Korean government says the site is now being restored.