North Korea vowed Monday to ramp up its nuclear weapons development in response to the U.S. policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” through tougher sanctions and international pressure.
“Now that the US is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], pursuant to its new DPRK policy called ‘maximum pressure and engagement,’ the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence,” wrote the Korean Central News Agency, quoting the foreign ministry.
“The DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” the article added.
North Korea has launched nine ballistic missiles this year, but has yet to test a nuclear device, despite wide speculation that the North is preparing for a sixth nuclear test. Some observers, noting high levels of activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, expected a nuclear test to mark either the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung on April 15 or the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army on April 25.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently revealed that the reason the North may not have tested a nuclear device is because China warned North Korea against it, threatening to take action against Pyongyang. That warning, however, may not deter North Korea indefinitely, especially as the country continues to advance its ballistic missile program through frequent tests.
North Korea believes that its pursuit of nuclear weapons is perfectly reasonable as the U.S. continues to send strategic military assets, such as the nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan and aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, to the Korean Peninsula. The North claims that “unpardonable” strikes on Syria justify its development of increasingly-powerful weaponry.
Monday’s article explained that if the North did not have nuclear weapons, “the U.S. would have committed, without hesitation, the same brigandish aggression in Korea as what it committed against other countries.”
“The US aggression hysteria has never reached such a height and the situation on the Korean Peninsula has never inched close to the brink of nuclear war,” the KCNA report warned.
“The DPRK is fully ready to respond to any option taken by the U.S.,” KCNA wrote, adding that the North “will continue to bolster its military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive nuclear attack with the nuclear force as a pivot.”
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