North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned that he is ready to use nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea. During the speech, he said the rivals are pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war, the Associated Press reported.
"Our armed forces are fully prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country's nuclear war deterrent forces are also ready to mobilize their absolute power in a conscientious, precise and quick manner in accordance with their mission," he said, speaking to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
Although Kim Jong-in has increasingly threatened his rivals with nuclear weapons, experts consider their use unlikely against a superior U.S. army and its allies, the paper notes.
During his speech, the North Korean leader also accused the United States of "demonizing" North Korea. He added that joint military exercises of the United States and South Korea demonstrate "double standards" and "thuggish" aspects of Washington, as "routine military activities of North Korea," i.e., missile tests, are labeled by countries as provocations or threats.
In addition, Kim Jong-un condemned the new government of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yol, calling its leaders "confrontational maniacs" and "thugs." Any military action against the DPRK, he said, would be "immediately punished by the mighty power" of North Korea.
The South Korean government has begun strengthening its military alliance with the United States since taking office in May. The country's Defense Ministry said that the military buildup and joint defense posture with Washington was a response to the escalating nuclear threat from the DPRK. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff also said that the army maintains a steadfast readiness.
In early June, the U.S. and South Korea launched eight ballistic missiles into the sea in response to North Korea.