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North Korea’s Kim orders ‘exponential’ expansion of nuke arsenal

( NYPost )

North Korea’s Kim Yong Un has reportedly ordered an “exponential” increase in his country’s nuclear arsenal, including the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2023 — an aggressive agenda that began with another weapons testing.

With South Korea “our undoubted enemy, it highlights the importance and necessity of a mass-producing of tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal,” Kim told a meeting of the ruling Working Party of Korea, the Yonhap News Agency of South Korea reported Sunday.

The reclusive leader told those gathered at the six-day meeting, which sets the agenda for state objectives, the United States is seeking to isolate North Korea.

“The prevailing situation calls for making redoubled efforts to overwhelmingly beef up the military muscle,” said Kim, who has for years been seeking the development of a long-range missile with the capability to strike the US mainland.

Along with ramping up the nuclear program and developing new ICBMs, Kim called for the launch of a spy satellite as early as possible.

His bellicose comments led South Korea’s Defense Ministry to issue a warning Sunday that any attempt by North Korea to deploy nuclear weapons “will lead to the end of the Kim Jong Un government.”

“The new year started but our security situation is still very grave,” South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol told military leaders. “Our military must resolutely punish any provocation by the enemy with a firm determination that we dare to risk fighting a battle.”

Top diplomats from the US, South Korea and Japan also spoke by phone and agreed any provocations by the hermit kingdom would result in its further isolation from the international community.

North Korea test-fired roughly 70 ballistic missiles last year – a record number of launches.

Kim’s regime claimed last month to have successfully performed tests crucial for the development of new strategic weapons – likely referring to a spy satellite and a high-thrust solid-fueled ICBM that would have the range to strike the US.

And in September, North Korea approved a new law that enshrines its right to use preemptive nuclear strikes as a means to protect itself.

“There is a possibility that the North will develop a solid-fuel ICBM. The North may unveil (it) at a military parade, for which the country is known to be preparing,” Ryu Sung-yeop, an expert at the South’s Korea Research Institute of Military Affairs, told the Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea’s military on Sunday said it had detected the launch of a short-range ballistic missile fired by North Korea.

The rocket traveled about 250 miles before crashing into the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

Kim, in his address, said a nuclear program would be used as a deterrent and, if attacked, a weapon.

“Our nuclear force considers it as the first mission to deter war and safeguard peace and stability and, however, if it fails to deter, it will carry out the second mission, which will not be for defense,” he said.

Kim met with former President Donald Trump three times, with the latest summit in 2019 falling apart over Trump’s refusal to lift the US-led sanctions against North Korea.

He has since refused to participate in further talks with Washington and has set about taking steps to increase the country’s military arsenal.

“It was during his 2018 New Year’s speech that (Kim) first ordered the mass production of warheads and ballistic missiles, and he’s doubling down on that quantitative expansion goal in the coming year,” Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Associated Press.

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