North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on the country’s military to “strengthen its forces by all means to annihilate the enemy”, state media reported on Friday, as new satellite images showed increased preparations for a possible nuclear test.
Kim made the remarks during photo ops with troops, state media outlets and others involved in a massive military parade on Monday, which marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of the military.
The parade showcased several of the North’s latest missiles, including its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17, and a recently tested hypersonic missile.
The exhibit demonstrated “the modernity, heroism and radical development of the Republic’s armed forces and their unrivaled military and technological superiority,” Kim told troops during the photo op, the news agency reported. official KCNA.
North Korea says it opposes war and its weapons are for self-defense, but at Monday’s parade Kim said his nuclear force’s mission goes beyond deterring the war to also include the defense of the “basic interests” of the nation.
Last month, North Korea resumed testing its biggest ICBMs, and there are signs it could soon test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017.
“Current satellite imagery indicates that preparations are well advanced and should not be viewed as insignificant activity,” the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in a report on Thursday.
South Korean and US analysts and officials have said the North appears to be restoring Tunnel No. 3 at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, used for underground nuclear explosions before it was closed in 2018 amid talks of denuclearization with Washington and Seoul.
Kim has since said the country is no longer bound by this self-imposed moratorium on testing, but North Korea has not commented on the work or confirmed its goal.
Commercial satellite images from Monday show the construction of new buildings, the movement of lumber and an increase in equipment and supplies just outside the new entrance to Tunnel No. 3, CSIS said.
“The date of a seventh nuclear test will undoubtedly depend exclusively on Kim Jong Un’s personal decision,” the report said.
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