North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday called for an “exponential” increase in the production of nuclear weapons as tensions continue to soar on the Korean Peninsula.
In a statement released by North Korea’s state media, Kim said that Pyongyang must bolster its military to “safeguard our sovereignty, safety, and basic national interest to cope with the dangerous military moves by the US and other hostile forces that target us.”
He said that the current tensions “highlights the importance and necessity of mass producing tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal.”
North Korea launched a record number of weapons tests in 2022 as the US and South Korea resumed large-scale war games. According to The New York Times, Pyongyang launched 95 missiles, including some ICBMs, more than any other previous year.
North Korea ended 2022 by launching three ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan and began the new year by firing a short-range ballistic missile off of its east coast early Sunday morning.
Last year also saw the largest US-South Korean war games since 2017 as Seoul and Washington have pursued a policy of tit-for-tat escalations with Pyongyang. The US has also deployed bombers to the Korean Peninsula for the first time since 2017.
If the US was interested in holding talks with North Korea to defuse tensions, it would likely need to offer something, such as a pause in war games or an easing of sanctions. But The Biden administration has shown no interest in diplomacy as it maintains it seeks the “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, which is a non-starter for negotiations with Pyongyang.