On Tuesday, North Korea threatened to increase its “deterrent of absolute capacity” and build up its arsenal of “preemptive strike” capabilities in response to new joint military training between the U.S. and South Korea.
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said in a statement reported by KCNA Watch that the U.S. and South Korea had begun “dangerous war games” which she claimed is “accelerating the instable situation” on the Korean Peninsula. She added that the U.S. continuing such actions “will surely make them face more serious security threat[s].”
“The prevailing situation proves once again that we were quite just when we decided to steadily build up the capabilities for national defense,” said Kim, who also serves as vice-department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
“The reality proves that only substantial deterrent, not words, can ensure the peace and security of the Korean peninsula, and that it is a vital requirement for us to build up the force powerful enough to fully contain the external threats to us,” she continued.
Kim then said, “We will put more spur to further increasing the deterrent of absolute capacity to cope with the ever-growing military threats from the U.S., i.e. the national defense capabilities and powerful preemptive strike for rapidly countering any military actions against us.”
Ankit Panda, an Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Washington Post that Kim’s phrase “deterrent of absolute capacity” probably referred to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
Vipin Narang, an MIT professor who specializes in nuclear strategy, also told the Washington Post, “I would likely interpret [‘deterrent of absolute capacity’] — in the broader context — to be the overall nuclear deterrent and posture.”
During her remarks, Kim also said “I would like to express my deep regret at the perfidious behavior of the south Korean authorities.” Her comment comes after North and South Korea reopened a line of communication two weeks ago after going a year without dialogue, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Reuters reported North and South Korea were also in talks to set up a new summit meeting and rebuild the inter-Korean liaison office after North Korea blew up the previous office last year amid the last round of silence between the two Koreas.
“We will not jump to conclusions and keep an eye on North Korea’s attitude while preparing for all possible options,” South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a Tuesday statement obtained by the Washington Post.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “Nothing’s changed about our need for readiness on the Korean peninsula and our desire to work in lock-step with our ROK allies on training regimen that improves that readiness and keeps that readiness strong.”