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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned this week that his country is willing to use the “absolute power” of its nuclear weapons against the U.S. and South Korea in a speech, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported Thursday.
“Our armed forces are completely prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power dutifully, exactly and swiftly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in Wednesday’s speech, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim was speaking to Korean War veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the fighting in an apparent effort to bolster national unity amid economic struggles connected to a coronavirus outbreak and U.S. sanctions.
The North Korean leader accused the U.S. of “double standards” and “gangster-like” activity over its military joint military drills with South Korea while criticizing North Korea for its missile tests.
He also claimed the U.S. is “demonizing” North Korea to justify its own hostile policies.
Kim criticized newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol – who has decided to take a hard line against North Korea and forge a strong military alliance with the U.S. – claiming Yoon is controlled by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters.”
“Talking about military action against our nation, which possesses absolute weapons that they fear the most, is preposterous and is very dangerous suicidal action,” Kim said of South Korea. “Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our powerful strength and the Yoon Suk Yeol government and his military will be annihilated.”
Yoon has sought to bolster the country’s ability to neutralize nuclear threats from North Korea, including preemptive strike capabilities.
“We once again urge North Korea to take the path of dialogue to achieve substantive denuclearization and peace,” Yoon’s office said in response to Kim’s remarks, adding that South Korea is capable of defending itself.
North Korea is planning on conducting its first nuclear test in five years soon, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.