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What has Kim Jong-Un said about a possible nuclear attack on South Korea?

Tensions from the unresolved Korean war continue as threatening rhetoric from both sides threatens peace on the peninsula.

Oliver Povey
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Pothong Riverside Terraced Residential District in this undated photo released on April 3, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).   KCNA via REUTERS    ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.

While the international community’s attention has been focused upon developments in Ukraine, the last two weeks has seen North Korea testing new ballistic missiles. The launch was not met kindly by the US and its allies.

The test was the successful launch of a Hwasong-17 Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the largest missile North Korea has tested to date. Described as a “significant milestone” for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, it was their longest range missile yet. It reached an altitude of 6,000km, surpassing that of its predecessor, Hwasong-15 which reached 4,500km. Launched at a flatter trajectory, Hwasong-17 has the potential to hit anywhere on the continental US.

The launch of the "Hwasong-17" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
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The launch of the "Hwasong-17" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).KCNAvia REUTERS

“The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilising actions,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Japan and South Korea, the latter of which has been officially at war with their northern neighbour since the 1940s, put out statements in opposition to the North Korean launch. This was met by further reaction in Pyeongyang that the north would never be the country to initiate a nuclear war, but would be the one to end it.

What has Kim Jong-Un said about the situation?

After a launch of new weapons at the end of March, North Korean state media quoted Mr Kim as saying that the country was preparing for a long confrontation with US imperialism.

However, there has been no official comment from the North Korean leader that has been publicly released. Instead, his sister, Kim Yo-jong, has offered the best view from inside the North Korean hierarchy.

“In case South Korea opts for military confrontation with us, our nuclear combat force will have to inevitably carry out its duty,” she said according to state media reports.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.
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Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.JORGE SILVAREUTERS

Ms Kim had described Suh Wook, the South Korean defence minister, as “a scum-like guy” for insinuating that South Korea could neutralize the north with ease.

No formal peace has been made between North and South Korea despite a long-standing ceasefire. The launch of Hwasong-17 marks the first North Korean ICBM test launch since 2017.


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