December 4, 2022

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would respond to US threats with nuclear weapons, state media said on Saturday after Kim personally oversaw Pyongyang’s recent launch of an ICBM.

Since Kim declared North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear state in September, Washington has stepped up regional security cooperation, including joint military exercises, and is looking at ways to bolster the protection it offers Seoul and Tokyo.

Kim criticized what he called “aggressive war exercises” and said if America continued to issue threats against the North, Pyongyang would “resolutely respond to nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation with all-out confrontation,” KCNA reported.

KCNA said Kim attended the launch “along with his beloved daughter and wife,” and state media images showed a beaming Kim walking in front of a giant black-and-white rocket, accompanied by an adoring young girl in a down jacket and red shoes .

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (R) with his daughter while launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile ( ICBM inspects Hwasong Gun 17 prior to takeoff from Pyongyang International Airport. – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would respond to U.S. threats with nuclear weapons, state media said Nov. 19 after Kim personally oversaw Pyongyang’s recent launch of an ICBM. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS/AFP)

It is extremely rare for state media to mention Kim’s children and it is believed to be one of the first official confirmations of his daughter, experts said.

North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of launches in recent weeks, which Pyongyang – and some allies including Moscow – have repeatedly accused the US of strengthening regional security cooperation, including joint military exercises.

Friday’s launch involved the country’s “novel ICBM,” the Hwasong-17, KCNA said, adding that the “test fire clearly demonstrated the reliability of the new large strategic weapons system.”

“Kim Jong Un said he came to reconfirm that the DPRK’s nuclear forces have secured another reliable and maximum capacity to contain any nuclear threat,” he added.

KCNA said the missile flew “to a maximum altitude of 6,040.9 km (3,750 miles) and flew a distance of 999.2 km” before landing “exactly on the preset area” in the East Sea or Sea of ​​Japan.

The distance and altitude are consistent with Seoul and Tokyo’s estimates on Friday, and are only slightly lower than those recorded on March 24.

North Korea also claimed that its March 24 launch also came from a Hwasong-17 – one of Kim’s largest weapons, which analysts have dubbed a “monster missile” – but Seoul later doubted that claim.

But this time, analysts said, the North appeared to have succeeded.

“The Hwasong-17 is the largest road-mobile liquid-propellant rocket ever developed and tested anywhere, so the North Koreans set a record of sorts with this successful flight test,” North Korea expert Ankit Panda said on Twitter.

– Next Generation of Kims –

North Korea has launched dozens of ballistic missiles this year – far more than any year on record – and recent launches have been increasingly provocative, including last month’s launch of a missile over Japan that prompted a rare airstrike alert.

On November 2, Pyongyang fired 23 rockets, including one that effectively crossed the sea border and landed near southern territorial waters for the first time since the end of Korean War hostilities in 1953. Seoul called it “effectively a territorial invasion.” .

The next day, North Korea fired an ICBM – although Seoul said it appeared to fail in mid-flight.

The key takeaway from Friday’s ICBM launch is “the resilience of the Kim regime’s weapons program because it is so essential to Kim’s own survival and the continuity of his family’s rule,” said Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst who now at RAND Corporation works AFP.

“This even addresses some of the curiosity and questions surrounding succession,” she said.

“We saw the fourth generation of the Kim family with our own eyes. And his daughter — along with potential other siblings — is certainly being cared for by her dad.