N. Korea’s Kim warns of ‘nuclear attack’ if ‘provoked’ with nukes

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, warned that Pyongyang would not hesitate to launch an attack on Pyongyang if it was “provoked” with nukes. State media reported this Thursday. Meanwhile, Seoul and its allies urged “dialogue free of preconditions”.

Kim’s warning comes after a meeting held between South Korea, the United States and Canada in Washington last week. They discussed nuclear deterrence if a conflict were to occur with the North.

The agenda of the meeting included “nuclear planning and strategic planning” and the allies reiterated their belief that a nuclear attack on the United States by Pyongyang or South Korea will lead to the end of North Korea’s regime.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday that Kim had told his military missile bureau to “not hesitate” (to launch) a nuclear strike if the enemy was threatening it with nukes.

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Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo issued a joint statement shortly after, calling on the nuclear-armed nation to “stop further provocations” and accept their call for a substantive dialogue with no preconditions.

In response to Pyongyang’s record-breaking weapons tests this year, the three countries have intensified their defence cooperation. On Tuesday they activated a real-time system for sharing data about North Korean missile launches.

The North launched the Hwasong-18 on Monday, its most powerful intercontinental missile. It later described it as a “warning countermeasure” to what it called persistent acts of “military threats” by Washington, and its allies.

Washington’s long-range bombers flew in drills on Wednesday with Seoul and Tokyo. A US nuclear submarine had arrived in Busan last week.

North Korea has stated that the “Korean Peninsula is in a war-like state by law”, and that Washington’s “strategic assets”, deployed in the South, will be the “first targets of destruction”.

Pyongyang referred to the October exercise, in which a US B52 bomber, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, took part, as the “intentional nuclear war provocative actions of the US”.

Pyongyang views drills conducted by the United States or its allies, as rehearsals of an invasion. It has justified its barrage of missile launches for years as “countermeasures”.

Seoul’s Defence Minister has made unusually fiery comments in recent months. Last week, he warned Pyongyang that it would face “hell of devastation” if Pyongyang engaged in “reckless actions” that “destroy peace”.

Yang Moo Jin, President of the University of North Korean Studies, Seoul, said to AFP that tensions between North Korea and South Korea are “at a peak of escalating threats”

He added that the latest developments “clearly reflected the seriousness and current (turbulent state of affairs) on the Korean Peninsula”.

– “Preparations for invasion”

Pyongyang declared itself a “nuclear power irreversible” last year and has said repeatedly that it will not give up its nuclear programme, which is seen as essential to its survival.

Kim Yo Jong’s powerful sister made a separate announcement Thursday. She slammed UN Security Council’s convening a meeting to discuss Pyongyang’s latest ICBM. Kim Yo Jong argued that Pyongyang had the right to defend itself.

According to KCNA, she stated that “the ceaseless military exercises of the US and their vassal troops (remind) of the overall preparations” for an invasion under the pretense of deterring someone’s threats.

She added that the “frequent appearance of US nuclear weapons (clearly) aimed at the DPRK” – the official acronym of the North – was the cause of the escalation of the regional situation.

Pyongyang launched a spy satellite in the last month. Pyongyang claimed that it began to provide images of US military sites and South Korean military bases. This further damaged inter-Korean relations.

The launch broke a military accord between the Koreas that was established to deescalate tensions in the peninsula. Both sides increased security along the Demilitarized Area (DMZ) which separates them.