In comments released Saturday, Kim said North Korea is developing weapons to deter the United States. These remarks suggest that President Donald Trump’s strategy of high-level commitment to Pyongyang – including three historic meetings between Trump and Kim – did not convince Pyongyang to abandon his search for an advanced nuclear arsenal.
No matter who is in power in the United States, the true nature and spirit of anti-North Korean policy will never change, Kim said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The development of nuclear weapons must continue uninterrupted.
The projects, Kim said, are at different stages of development. He said the technology to control multiple warheads was in its final stage, while research into the hypersonic flight that could be used for new ballistic missiles was being completed and North Korea was preparing to test and produce them – a possible sign that Pyongyang is about to renew Washington and Seoul’s anathema to the nature of missile testing.
Kim said that improvements in tactical nuclear weapons, designed for smaller range and often less destructive use than strategic nuclear weapons, are being completed. Research on nuclear submarines seems to be the slowest growing area. The studies in these subgroups have already been completed and are in the final phase, according to Kim.
According to experts, the Kim regime has long sought to use these technologies to improve the quality and longevity of its nuclear weapons. A nuclear-powered submarine would be particularly useful in terms of deterrence, as it would enhance North Korea’s second attack capability, i.e. its ability to survive and respond in kind to an initial enemy nuclear attack.
In July 2019 the CNCA published photographs of Kim inspecting a submarine under construction. At the time, the United States believed that the statues probably represented a converted submarine that Washington had known for more than a year, according to a senior U.S. official. And satellite images from September of that year showed that Pyongyang could prepare to deploy a rocket submarine.
However, it is unlikely that North Korea will actually be able to deploy such a submarine in the foreseeable future. Although North Korea has successfully tested submarine ballistic missiles and presumably has a fleet of about 70 submarines, experts say that most submarines are probably old and noisy and unable to launch ballistic missiles suitable for nuclear weapons.
I wouldn’t even expect to see a prototype nuclear reactor off the coast of North Korea, but their interest in the technology isn’t surprising, said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert on North Korea’s nuclear program.
According to Panda, Kim’s interest in tactical or low-efficiency nuclear weapons makes perfect sense, even though they are highly ineffective with fissile material that North Korea cannot easily obtain.
North Korea’s interest in this weapon is not surprising from a strategic point of view – in fact, it is a good addition to the favorite nuclear strategy of Kim Jong Un, according to Panda, the author of Kim Jong Un and the Bomb : Survival and containment in North Korea.
According to Panda, North Korea probably intends to use these tactical nuclear weapons to prevent a possible conventional invasion of the country. For example, Kim could retain his longer strategic nuclear weapons to retaliate against the United States and the civilian centres of Japan and South Korea if the United States and its allies launch an offensive after this initial use of nuclear weapons.
Kim’s interest in tactical nuclear weapons is similar to Pakistan’s: She asked bets to weaken the mobilisation of a conditionally superior neighbor, he said.
Kim’s comments were passed on to the country’s main political leaders, who met in Pyongyang for the Labour Party’s Eighth Congress, a summit where the country’s leaders met to reflect on the successes and failures of recent years and to draw up a programme for the future. These meetings usually take place about every five years, but Kim’s father and his predecessor Kim Jong-il did not hold them after 1980. Kim Jong-un revived it in 2016.
North Korea’s emerging economy is probably the most important issue on the domestic agenda. In August, Kim admitted that his economic plans of the Seventh Labour Party had failed and promised to do better. But sanctions, natural disasters and the Covid 19 pandemic have put the North Korean economy on a dead end, and experts do not know how to do better without major reforms.
Much of the speech focused on Kim’s plans to expand his nuclear arsenal and modernise his conventional arsenal. He promised that North Korea would be a responsible nuclear power, with a policy of no use at all.
As a responsible nuclear power, North Korea will only misuse nuclear weapons when it comes to attacking hostile forces, Kim said.
Although Kim said the continued accumulation of nuclear and conventional weapons did not stand in the way of diplomacy, he warned opponents against any attempt to harm the highest interests and dignity of the country.
These remarks, intended for the United States, are Kim’s first public remarks to President-elect Jo Biden and suggest that Pyongyang may not want to have discussions in the early days of the new administration.
According to Kim, the key to a new relationship between North Korea and the United States requires the United States to end its hostile policy towards Pyongyang, which North Korea often defines with Washington’s alliance with South Korea, its commitment to protect South Korea under the US nuclear umbrella, and the deployment of US forces in East Asia.
However, Biden made it clear that his foreign policy strategy would include strengthening ties with allies who feel abandoned by Trump, who sees the partnership as a transaction.
The South Korean Unification Ministry said Seoul would not change its policy of denuclearization or inter-Korean peace in response to Kim’s remarks.
South Korea hopes that talks between North Korea and the United States can resume as soon as possible after the beginning of the new policy, said the Ministry in a statement.
But the Biden administration may have to deal with it sooner than it would like, given North Korea’s provocative rocket tests during the first 100 days of the Trump and Obama administration.
Although Kim didn’t say such weapons testing was on the table, he said a year ago that he no longer felt bound by agreements with Trump to stop testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles – and Kim would probably have to test all new weapons in development before declaring them combat-ready.