Kim Jong Un: Nuclear Forces Ready for 'Actual War'

Analysts say North Korean leader has been emboldened by Putin's rhetoric
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2022 6:51 AM CDT
Kim Jong Un: Nuclear Forces Ready for 'Actual War'
A TV screen shows an image of a North Korean missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

With Vladimir Putin warning that nuclear strikes are an option in the Ukraine war, Kim Jong Un apparently doesn't want to feel left out. The North Korean dictator warned Thursday that the country's nuclear forces have demonstrated "their full preparedness for actual war to bring the enemies under their control," CNN reports. The statement was issued the day after the country tested long-range cruise missiles in what CNN says was its 26th missile test of the year. The AP puts the count at more than 40. Most of the other tests involved ballistic missiles. According to state media, the missiles in Wednesday's test "clearly hit" targets 1,240 miles away. State media said the weapons system has already been deployed with military units operating "tactical" battlefield nuclear weapons.

Analysts say the cruise missiles are among weapons developed by North Korea to evade missile defenses, though South Korean officials say they are "slow enough to be intercepted," Reuters reports. It's not clear whether North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough for a cruise missile, but analysts say Kim's threats should be taken seriously. "North Korea’s cruise missiles, air force, and tactical nuclear devices are probably much less capable than propaganda suggests," says Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. "But it would be a mistake to dismiss North Korea’s recent weapons testing spree as bluster or saber-rattling."

South Korea's vice defense minister, Shin Beom-chul, said Pyongyang appears to be building up to its first nuclear tests since 2017. Analysts say Kim appears to have been emboldened by Putin's rhetoric about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. "Putin and Kim feed off each other, routinizing the right to nuke a peaceful neighbor by repeating it without repercussion," says Sung-Yoon Lee at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. " (Read more North Korea stories.)

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