The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is indicating that Pyongyang may have nefarious plans for the new year – test-launching of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In his New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un said last year’s testing of a hydrogen bomb was the prelude to the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He indicated that preparation for this event has “reached the final stage.”
The North Korean leader did not specifically state an ICBM test was imminent, but Jan. 6th will mark the date on which Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test last year. Kim will turn 33 on Jan. 8th.
In Sunday’s address, televised as a mix of video, audio-only, and still photos, Kim threatened to expand North Korea’s military capabilities further, should the U.S. continue engaging in war games with his country’s rival, South Korea. He also stated that efforts must be made to avoid another Korean war and focused more on his country’s economy, again highlighting the “five-year plan” announced last year.
“The political and military position of socialism should be further cemented as an invincible fortress,” Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. “We should resolutely smash the enemies’ despicable and vicious moves to dampen the pure and ardent desire of the people for the party and estrange the people from it.”
South Korea’s Unification Ministry responded by stating it “strongly condemns” Kim’s threats of test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile and strengthening nuclear-strike capabilities. The Ministry went on to promise increased sanctions imposed by the international community if North Korean continues in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Since 2011, when Kim rose to power after the death of his father, North Korea has made steady progress in its nuclear and missile programs. 2016 saw two nuclear tests in the country and technical advancements have only increased the probability of its long-range nuclear missiles reaching the United States. Kim has shown no interest in cooperating with U.N. resolutions calling for an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
President-elect Trump will inherit this uncertainty in just under three weeks. Trump has suggested a willingness to meet with Kim but also indicated that it is China’s place to exert control over Pyongyang in an effort to orchestrate North Korea abandoning its nuclear program.
Pyongyang has demanded that the U.S. stop its joint military exercises with South Korea and enter negotiations on a peace treaty to officially end 1950-53’s Korean War. With no action from Washington in this direction, however, cavernous hostilities and distrust between the nations have only grown deeper.
H/T: CBS News
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