North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his military to be ready for possible war, according to state media. The announcement came after he presided over a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, where he reviewed the country’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
Kim also stressed the need to enhance the “combat readiness” of the armed forces and “reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces”, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The meeting was held amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests in recent months, defying international sanctions and warnings. The latest test, on December 28, involved a hypersonic missile that flew at more than five times the speed of sound.
France24 quoted Kim saying, “It is a fait accompli that a war can break out at any time on the Korean peninsula due to reckless moves by the enemies to invade us”, Kim said.
“We must respond quickly to a possible nuclear crisis and continue to accelerate preparations to pacify the entire territory of South Korea by mobilising all physical means and forces, including nuclear force, in case of emergency,” Kim said.
The US and its allies have condemned North Korea’s missile activities as provocative and dangerous, and have urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue on denuclearization. However, North Korea has rejected any talks that would require it to give up its nuclear weapons, which it sees as a deterrent against a possible US invasion.
Kim’s order to prepare for war comes as he is expected to deliver a New Year’s speech on January 1, which is closely watched for clues on his policy direction. Analysts say he may use the occasion to announce new weapons development or issue more threats to the US and South Korea.