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Monday, April 15, 2024

Kim Jong-un Praises Successful Long-Range Missile Test, Raising Tensions with the US

Kim Jong-un lauds North Korea's successful long-range missile test, emphasizing its preemptive capability, escalating tensions with the US amid increased military maneuvers and a perceived nuclear war preview.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has praised the country’s military for the successful test-launch of a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is potentially capable of striking any target in the mainland United States.

On Monday, Pyongyang tested its solid-fuel Hwasong-18 ICBM, which according to analysts has an operational range of up to 15,000km. Unlike liquid-fueled rockets, such missiles typically take less time to prepare for launch, meaning that adversaries have less time to detect them.

The North Korean leader celebrated the achievement on Wednesday, stating that the country’s sovereignty and regional peace can only be guaranteed by demonstrating the “real capability for preemptively attacking the enemy anywhere… making any enemy feel fear.”

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The missile test was “a clear explanation of the offensive counteraction mode and the evolution of the nuclear strategy and doctrine of the DPRK not to hesitate even [to launch] a nuclear attack when the enemy provokes it with nukes,” Kim Jong-un said, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

According to Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang’s success “greatly shocked the US imperialists and their top class stooges, the wreckers of peace and stability, who have committed self-destructive acts all year round, obsessed with the incurable hysteria of confrontation.”

In response to the launch, the United States, South Korea and Japan conducted their own show of force in the region, which involved a US strategic B-1B bomber, to “demonstrate the strong resolve for joint response.”

After a brief détente during the latter part of former US President Donald Trump’s term in office, North Korea ramped up its missile testing program following Joe Biden’s inauguration, and has conducted more than 100 launches since the beginning of 2022. Tensions have further flared on the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang’s successful launch of a spy satellite last month.

The US, meanwhile, has increased the scale and frequency of its military exercises with South Korea. Last week, Washington and Seoul agreed to war-game the use of nuclear weapons in drills expected to take place next summer. The arrival of a US nuclear-powered submarine in South Korea on Sunday – which comes amid expanded military drills and collaboration between the allies – was also perceived by the North as a “preview of a nuclear war.”