The diminutive dictator of North Korea is back up to his old tricks this week. Kim Jong-un released video of his tour of a number of strategic weapons yesterday, something that he hasn’t done in quite a while. He gave a speech accusing the United States of being “hostile” toward his country and vowed to build an “invincible military that no one can challenge” and that would defeat the evils of America and capitalism or something. Nothing about the speech was really covering any new territory, but America wasn’t the target audience as we’ll get to in a moment. What was new was at least two of the weapons on display and a bit in a change of Kim’s stance toward South Korea. North Korea is clearly continuing to try to advance its technology in both ICBMs and hypersonic weapons, though the latest models are reportedly yet to be fully tested. (Associated Press)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed a rare exhibition of weapons systems and vowed to build an “invincible” military, as he accused the United States of creating tensions and not taking action to prove it has no hostile intent toward the North, state media reported Tuesday.
In an apparent continued effort to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, Kim also said his drive to build up his military isn’t targeted at South Korea and that there shouldn’t be another war pitting Korean people against each other.
Kim gave the speech Monday at the “Defense Development Exhibition ‘Self-Defense-2021’,” an event meant to mark the previous day’s 76th birthday of the ruling Workers’ Party. South Korean media reported it was the first such event held by North Korea.
The tiny tyrant went on to accuse America of “creating tensions” on the Korean Peninsula and being a “source of instability. That’s a rather odd statement coming from the guy who is parading nuclear weapons around and threatening to blow up the world.
As I already mentioned, America wasn’t the audience Kim was making a pitch to. As usual, he wanted to impress his own people with how tough he is and how he is ready to stand up to the United States and the rest of the west. But this time the speech was also intended for South Korea. Kim made a point of saying this his military power was not intended for use against the south. He said, “Surely, we aren’t strengthening our defense capability because of South Korea. We shouldn’t repeat a horrible history of compatriots using force against each other.”
Kim clearly wants to force a divide between the United States and South Korea. If he can force a wedge between us and any of our allies, that only strengthens his hand. Fortunately, I rather doubt that Moon Jae-in is dumb enough to fall for Kim’s flavor of malarkey.
The weapons being shown during Kim’s tour did contain a few surprises. There was a new model of ICBM mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle. Defense analysts said that this model has been seen in recent parades, but North Korea hasn’t actually fired one of them yet, so its capabilities remain unknown. Also on display were ballistic missiles that can allegedly be fired from a submarine and the “hypersonic” missile that Kim tested last month. (It hasn’t achieved anything close to hypersonic speed yet and defense analysts believe it is probably years from being ready to display those sorts of capabilities.)
All in all, none of this was terribly new. Nor was it any more provocative than Kim usually is when he’s trying to draw attention to himself. Honestly, we have much bigger fish to fry with China and Taiwan right now, and it might be better if the Biden administration just released a brief denial of any intention to cause unrest on the Korean Peninsula and sticks to shoring up our relationship with South Korea. We’ve strained our ties with enough of our allies this year already, and we certainly don’t need to go driving Moon Jae-in into the arms of Kim at this point.