SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called on his military to be constantly combat-ready to thwart plots to invade his country, accusing the United States of conducting “more frantic” naval exercises with their close allies in North Korea. state media reported Tuesday.
The US and South Korean armies are holding joint summer exercises that North Korea sees as a rehearsal for an invasion. The allies insisted that the drills were defensive in nature.
Kim said in a speech marking National Navy Day which falls on Monday that the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been rendered unstable “with the danger of nuclear war” due to hostilities led by the United States, according to the official Korean news agency.
He cited the recent U.S.-South Korean-Japanese summit, the deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear assets, and U.S. exercises with their allies.
“The current situation demands that our Navy exert all efforts to perfect war readiness, maintain constant combat vigilance and prepare to break the enemy’s will to fight in the event of an emergency,” Kim said.
The US and South Korean military began the 11-day joint drills on August 21. The annual Ulchi Freedom Shield training is a computer-simulated command post exercise. But they also included field exercises this year.
North Korea usually responds to US-South Korean military exercises with its own missile tests. Its most recent known weapons test was the failed second launch of a spy satellite last Thursday. On the day the drills began, KCNA said Kim observed the test firings of strategic cruise missiles.
Since the start of 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 weapons tests, many involving nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike the United States and its allies South Korea and Japan. Many experts say North Korea ultimately wants to use its enhanced military capabilities to wrest greater concessions from the United States.
The series of North Korean tests forced the United States and South Korea to expand their exercises, resume trilateral training involving Japan, and improve “regular visibility” of American strategic assets on the Korean peninsula. In July, the United States deployed a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades.
Earlier this month, the leaders of the United States, South Korea and Japan held their first-ever standalone trilateral summit at Camp David. During the meeting, they announced their intention to implement the sharing of real-time missile warning data on North Korea by the end of the year and to hold annual trilateral exercises.
Kim has made great efforts to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce a series of sophisticated weapon systems.
During his Navy Day speech, Kim said military units in each service will receive new armaments, in line with the government’s decision to expand the operation of tactical nuclear weapons. He said the navy would become “a component of the state’s nuclear deterrent, fulfilling its strategic mission.”
This suggests that North Korea would deploy new nuclear-capable missiles to its navy and other military services.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.