SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed powerful missiles developed to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S. mainland, as he vowed to build an “invincible” military to cope with what he called persistent U.S. hostility, state media reported Tuesday.
Kim also used his speech at a rare exhibition of weapons systems Monday to stress that his military might isn’t targeted at South Korea and that there shouldn’t be another war pitting Korean people against each other.
“The U.S. has frequently signaled it’s not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to make us believe that they are not hostile,” Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. “The U.S. is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions.”
Calling the United States a “source” of instability on the Korean Peninsula, Kim said his country’s most important objective is possessing an “invincible military capability” that no one can dare challenge.
The exhibition, which KCNA says was meant to mark the 76th birthday of the ruling Workers’ Party on Sunday, was the first of its kind since Kim took power in late 2011, according to Seoul officials. North Korean photos showed Kim, clad in a dark suit, walking on a red carpet lined with big missiles mounted on trucks, passing by a multiple rocket launch system and watching jets flying in a formation.
The exhibition featured an array of newly developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles North Korea has already test-launched or displayed during military parades in recent years, experts say.
Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the weapons in the photos include what appears to be a new ICBM that North Korea disclosed during a military parade last year but hasn’t test-fired, Yang said. That missile mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle during the parade is considered to be the North’s biggest-yet ICBM.
Other weapons on display were another ICBM that North Korea tested in 2017; ballistic missiles that can be fired from submarines or a train; solid-fueled, short-range missiles; and a developmental hypersonic missile that had its first test-flight last month, said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.
“Basically, North Korea wants to send this message: ‘We’ll continue to develop new weapons and arm ourselves with nuclear force, so don’t slap sanctions with these as we can’t agree on the double standards,’” Yang said.