Kim Jong-un “would use his nuclear weapons” if he felt his grip on power was slipping, a high-ranking North Korean defector suggested Sunday.
North Korea is boosting its nuclear arsenal and developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking targets in the continental U.S.; however, there is a debate over whether or not the North would use weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies.
“Once he sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM,” Thae Yong-ho, the the most high-profile North Korean defector in decades, told NBC’s Lester Holt, adding that “if Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons and ICBMs, he can do anything.”
“The world should be ready to deal with this kind of person,” he warned.
Disillusioned with Kim Jong-un’s “reign of terror,” Thae, a former North Korean diplomat in London, defected with his family last year. The North has referred to him as “human scum.” While he was not affiliated with the North’s weapons programs, Thae has been able to offer valuable insight into the North Korean government and its ambitions.
“The final and the real solution to the North Korean nuclear issue is to eliminate Kim Jong-un,” he asserted.
Thae reports that Kim is building up his nuclear arsenal to avoid the fate of other leaders deemed undesirable by the Western world. He watched as Western-backed forces overthrew Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi, both of whom abandoned the development of nuclear weapons and were forcibly removed from power.
“That’s why Kim Jong Un strongly believes that only a nuclear weapon can guarantee his rule,” Thae told NBC, remarking that the regime is “desperate” maintain its rule by developing nuclear weapons and long-range missile technology.
Recent activity around North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site indicates that the North may be preparing for a sixth test, and some observers argue that the North may test an ICBM sometime this year.
“There is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the U.S. with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term,” K.T. McFarland, the deputy White House national security adviser, told the Financial Times.
The Trump administration has completed a review of its North Korea policy, which may involve tougher sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its unruly neighbor. President Donald Trump will meet with President Xi Jinping this week to discuss the North Korea issue. The president asserts that the U.S. will deal with North Korea alone if China refuses to cooperate. “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Trump told reporters Sunday.
“Kim’s days are numbered,” Thae previously explained to reporters in Washington.
“When Kim Jong-un first came to power, I was hopeful that he would make reasonable and rational decisions to save North Korea from poverty, but I soon fell into despair watching him purging officials for no proper reasons,” he revealed. Thae believes that information and education are crucial to bringing down the regime.
“We have to spray gasoline on North Korea, and let the North Korean people set fire to it,” he added.
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