Kim Jong Un Vows 'Exponential' Increase in NKorea's Nuclear Arsenal

North Korean state media on Sunday reported that Kim Jong Un pledged to exponentially increase the country's nuclear arsenal, citing the need to counter threats from South Korea and the US. Kim alleged that the South and US have been isolating and suffocating the North.

Kim Jong Un Vows 'Exponential' Increase in NKorea's Nuclear Arsenal
Image credit: KCNA/Reuters [via CNN]

Facts

  • North Korean state media on Sunday reported that Kim Jong Un pledged to exponentially increase the country's nuclear arsenal, citing the need to counter threats from South Korea and the US. Kim alleged that the South and US have been isolating and suffocating the North.
  • Kim also set out plans to develop another intercontinental ballistic missile system to allow North Korea to deliver a "quick nuclear counterstrike" and stated that the country is about to launch its first military reconnaissance satellite.
  • Kim's message capping the Workers' Party's policy meeting to discuss goals for 2023 comes as Pyongyang has improved its weapon capabilities to "raise national prestige, defend national rights and safeguard national interest..." while deepening ties with the PRC and Russia.
  • Over the weekend, North Korea allegedly twice tested its nuclear-capable 600mm "Multiple Rocket Launcher" system. The weapon reportedly can reach all of South Korea in its shooting range.
  • Tensions in the Korean Peninsula reached a new low early last week after Seoul vowed to bolster its air defense network and be assertive against future provocations by Pyongyang. This followed allegations that the North flew drones across the border for the first time in five years.
  • North Korea fired some 70 ballistic missiles in 2022, a record-high in a single year, including the firing of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile in November.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, Washington Post, CNN, Guardian, and Korea Herald.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by RedState. You can’t blame Kim Jong Un for flexing North Korea’s military muscle when Biden is recklessly saber-rattling with Taiwan and China — how does he know the US won't also team up with South Korea for an invasion of the North? Trump's relationship with, and policies towards, North Korea maintained stability in the Korean Peninsula.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by MSNBC. Kim Jong Un's geopolitical actions have been erratic, and his missile launches are destabilizing the Peninsula. Instead of provoking a confrontation, the leader should take the Biden administration up on its offer to meet without preconditions, and settle any grievances peacefully. Biden is showing strength and prudence in the region.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by AntiWar. The US has threatened to nuke North Korea, which has the right to defend itself. The US should stop playing "GloboCop" and prioritize solving its domestic problems.

Predictions