North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong warns of ‘dire’ nuclear response if provoked


North Korea will use its nuclear weapons to “eliminate” South Korea’s military if they launch a pre-emptive strike, leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister said on Tuesday.

Kim Yo Jong’s warning, published on state media, was his second angry retort in three days to comments made by South Korea’s defense chief Suh Wook last week.

They come as North Korea has resumed its sanctions-busting weapons tests with an unprecedented bombardment this year, last month firing its first full-speed intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017.

Suh had said on Friday that the South Korean military had missiles with “the ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea when there are clear signs of North Korean missile launches.”

In response, Kim Yo Jong said it was a “huge mistake” for “crazy” Suh ​​to have discussed a preemptive strike against a nuclear power, according to the KCNA report.

“Should South Korea choose a military confrontation with us, our nuclear fighting force will inevitably have to do its duty,” said Kim Yo Jong, who is a key political adviser in Pyongyang.

He said the “primary mission” of his country’s nuclear forces was to act as a deterrent, but if an armed conflict breaks out, those weapons will be used to “eliminate the enemy’s armed forces in one attack.”

As a result of this “terrible attack,” the South Korean forces will face a “miserable fate of little short of total destruction and ruin,” he said.

“We don’t consider them as (a) rival to our armed forces,” he said, referring to the South Korean military.

His latest comments follow an initial attack on Suh’s “reckless remarks” on Sunday, in which he warned that the South should “discipline itself if it is to avoid disaster.”

But President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition team said Tuesday it was not ruling out a preemptive strike as a possible military option if necessary, a position Yoon himself supported earlier during the campaign.

“Preemptive strikes are one of the actions that are accepted globally, including in the UN, as a viable option… when a preemptive threat remains,” spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye told reporters on Tuesday.

North Korea had halted its long-range and nuclear tests when Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump engaged in a high-profile diplomatic tussle that subsequently collapsed in 2019. The talks have since stalled. .

For five years under President Moon Jae-in, Seoul has pursued a policy of engagement with Pyongyang, brokering high-level summits between Kim and Trump while curtailing joint US military exercises that the North finds provocative.

But for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who will take office in May, this “servile” approach has been a manifest failure, and he has vowed to take a hard line with Pyongyang.

North Korea will this month celebrate the 110th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim.

Pyongyang usually likes to mark key national anniversaries with military parades, major weapons tests, or satellite launches.

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