During a major party ruling meeting, Kim Jong Un the North Korean leader vowed all-out efforts to bolster his country’s nuclear deterrent. Previously, he had laid out plans to work toward salvaging the broken economy.
Kim’s powerful sister criticized South Korea’s military for saying it had seen an apparent military parade taking place in Pyongyang. On Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, who was described in charge of inter-Korean relations commented that such close tracking proved Seoul’s hostile approach toward its rival. The eight-day Workers’ Party congress that ended Tuesday came as Kim Jong Un faces what appears to be the toughest moment of his nine-year rule.
During closing remarks at the congress, Kim mentioned that while strengthening their nuclear war deterrent they needed to invest every effort to build the strongest military capabilities.
Kim also called for reasserting greater state control over the economy, boosting agricultural production, and prioritizing the development of chemicals and metal industries in a five-year plan. The economic setbacks have left Kim with nothing to show for his high-stakes summitry with President Donald Trump.
During the congress, Kim doubled down on his ambitions to expand the North’s military capabilities. He announced his plans to develop more sophisticated nuclear assets, including longer-range missiles that could potentially target the American homeland, spy satellites, new tactical nuclear weapons, and nuclear-powered submarines.
Kim labeled the United States as the North’s ‘principal enemy’ and said the fate of bilateral relations would depend on whether Washington discards what Pyongyang perceives as hostile policies.
Meanwhile, the statement given by Kim’s sister indicated that she is still handling the North’s relations with South Korea. Seen as the most powerful woman in North Korea, Kim Yo Jong has come in and out of prominence under her brother’s rule.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff had said Monday that it had obtained intelligence showing a North Korean military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday night and was checking whether it was an official event or a rehearsal.
“We are only holding a military parade in the capital city, not military exercises targeting anybody nor launch of anything. Why do they take trouble craning their neck to follow what’s happening in the (North)?” Kim Yo Jong said.
During its last military parade in October, the North unveiled a series of new strategic weapons, including what appeared to be its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile.