North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said that his ultimate goal is to possess the world’s most powerful nuclear force, according to state media.
Kim made the announcement on Saturday as he promoted dozens of military officers involved in the recent launch of North Korea’s largest ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
In his order, Kim said that North Korea was building a nuclear force to protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and its people and said that his country’s “ultimate goal is to possess the world’s most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century”.
He said the Hwasong-17 — an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States — was the “world’s strongest strategic weapon” and that it demonstrated North Korea’s resolve and ability to eventually build the world’s strongest army.
The ICBM launch on November 18 has been condemned by members of the United Nations Security Council, who called it “a serious escalation” and an “unequivocal threat to international peace and security”. The launch is part of an ongoing blitz of North Korean tests this year that have included the firing of cruise missiles as well as dozens of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Kim said on Saturday that North Korean scientists have also made a “wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles”.
He did not elaborate further.
That ability is critical if North Korea wants to achieve its goal of possessing a nuclear weapon that can strike its main foe, the US.
Outside observers say that while North Korea has nuclear bombs and missiles that can fly as far as the US, it is not clear if Pyongyang’s scientists can miniaturise the atomic weapons to fit inside the cramped space in the nose of the missiles.
Kim told the scientists, engineers, military officials and others involved in the Hwasong-17 test on Saturday that he expects them to continue to expand and strengthen the country’s nuclear deterrent at an extraordinarily rapid pace.
The North Korean leader and his daughter went on to pose for a series of pictures with those workers as well as the Hwasong-17.
In a separate report, KCNA also said North Korea’s powerful Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly had awarded the Hwasong-17 missile the title of “DPRK Hero and Gold Star Medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class”. DPRK refers to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
KCNA said the missile “clearly proved before the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power capable of standing against the nuclear supremacy of the US imperialists and fully demonstrated its might as the most powerful ICBM state”.
The test fire also demonstrated that North Korea will react in kind to “the enemy’s nuke and full-frontal confrontation,” it added.