North Korea Orders ‘Exponential Expansion’ Of Nuclear Arsenal

The Associated Press is reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal and the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.

Last month, North Korean state media reported that Kim had presented new plans to further bolster his military power next year. Kim called for mass production of short-range nuclear missiles and ordered the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile during a multi-day meeting of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, according to the A.P.

Axios reports that this is significant because it underscores Kim’s intent to push for more nuclear production and potentially run more weapons tests, which had already taken place at an extremely high rate last year.

According to the translation from the state-run outlet, Korean Central, Kim said that the U.S. and its allies are attempting “to isolate and stifle the Korean Peninsula. The created situation demands redoubled efforts to strengthen the overwhelming military power that can thoroughly guarantee the sovereignty, security, and fundamental interests of the Republic in response to the worrisome military behavior of the U.S. and hostile forces.”

Kim also said that North Korea is developing an ICBM “with a rapid nuclear counterattack capability.”

On New Year’s Eve, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters in a display of its latest weaponry, one day after its rival South Korea conducted a rocket launch related to an attempt to bolster its space-based surveillance to better monitor the North.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launches “a grave provocation” that undermines international peace, asserting that South Korea is ready to “overwhelmingly” deter any provocation by North Korea.

Before the New Year’s Eve launches, North Korea had already test-fired more than 70 missiles this year. Many of these missiles are nuclear-capable weapons with enough range to reach the U.S. mainland, South Korea and Japan.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has said that his country will boost its air defense network and has vowed to sternly deal with provocations by North Korea.

But some experts say that the trainings are just a ruse, with the ultimate goal being to modernize North Korea’s arsenal to increase its leverage in future dealings with the U.S.

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