North Korea Warns ‘US Threats’ May Force Pyongyang to Resume Nuke, Long-Range Missile Tests
Story Code : 974846
“Assessing that the hostile policy and military threats by the US have reached a danger line that cannot be overlooked any longer despite our sincere efforts for maintaining the general tide for relaxation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula since the DPRK-US summit in Singapore, the [Politburo] unanimously recognized that we should make more thorough preparation for a long-term confrontation with the US imperialists,” the Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday, citing decisions taken in a meeting of the country’s leadership, chaired by General Secretary Kim Jong-un.
The KCNA report indicated that in the years since the diplomatic efforts undertaken by Kim and US officials in 2018 and 2019 aimed at easing tensions, the US had “held hundreds of joint war drills”, delivered “ultra-modern attack means” to South Korea and placed “nuclear strategic weapons into the region around the Korean peninsula,” thus “seriously threatening the security of our state.”
The DPRK politburo also accused the US of “viciously slurring” Pyongyang and committing a “foolish act” by slapping over twenty packages of sanctions against the Asian nation.
Vowing “practical action to more reliably and effectively increase” the country’s military potential, the politburo instructed its armed forces to “immediately bolster more powerful physical means which can efficiently control the hostile moves of the US against the DPRK getting ever more serious day by day”.
Instructions were given “to reconsider in an overall scale the trust-building measures that we took on our own initiative on a preferential ground and to promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporarily suspended activities”, the report stated.
North Korea unilaterally suspended nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing in 2018 amid a warming of ties with Seoul and Washington, and stuck to its pledge even after negotiations between Kim and former US President Donald Trump broke down in 2019. Relations further cooled under President Joe Biden in 2021. Since 2018, the country has limited its missile testing to short-range projectiles.
Over the past two weeks, North Korea has dramatically ramped up its testing activities, successfully testing hypersonic projectiles, launching two conventional ballistic missiles from a rail-based system, and firing off a pair of tactical guided missiles.
The US Treasury on January 12 slapped six North Korean officials with sanctions, accusing them of involvement in the procurement of components for Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes. A Russian businessperson and their company were also charged for “activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery”.
Biden did not bring up North Korea at a Wednesday solo press conference marking his first anniversary in office. A White House spokesperson declined to “get into the hypotheticals” of a potential US response to a resumption of nuclear and long-range missile testing by Pyongyang, but said that Washington’s goal remains the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken characterized North Korea’s missile testing as “profoundly destabilizing”, and said the US would work with its regional allies to find a solution.
Pyongyang has expressed a willingness to work with Seoul and Washington to reduce tensions in the region, but has rejected US demands that it unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang reportedly sees weapons of mass destruction as a guarantee of its strategic security against foreign aggression. The country has gradually built up its missiles’ capabilities, in May 2017 gaining a theoretical ability to hit Guam, and carrying out two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles - the Hwasong-14 and the Hwasong-15 - in July and November 2017. The latter two weapons are said to be capable of reaching the US mainland.
The country demonstrated another ICBM – the Hwasong-17 - in October 2020, with that missile said to have a range of up to 13,000 km and a potential warhead weight of 2,000-3,500 kg.