SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The powerful sister of North Korea’s ruler said her country will continue to flex its military muscle in response to a new agreement between Washington and Seoul to step up its nuclear deterrent to counter the North Korean atomic threat, which she insists shows her “brutal” hostility toward Pyongyang.
Kim Yo Jong also hurled insults at U.S. President Joe Biden, who at the end of a summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday that a North Korean nuclear attack on the United States or its allies “will result in the end of any regime” that took such action.
Biden and Yoon met in Washington amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula as both the pace of North Korean weapons displays and military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea has increased in a cycle of reciprocity.
Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has test-fired some 100 missiles, including several displays of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the U.S. mainland, as well as a series of short-range shots that the North Korean government described as a drill for nuclear strikes against South Korea.
North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is widely expected to intensify his pressures in the coming weeks or months as he continues to accelerate his campaign aimed at consolidating North Korea’s position as a nuclear power and ultimately negotiating economic and security concessions from the United States from a posture of strength.
During their meeting, Biden and Yoon announced new deterrent measures that call for the periodic docking of nuclear-armed U.S. submarines in South Korea for the first time in decades, and increased military training between the two countries. They also pledged to develop plans for bilateral presidential consultations in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack, the establishment of an atomic advisory group and improved information sharing on atomic and strategic weapons operation plans.
In his comments published in state media, Kim Yo Jong said the U.S.-South Korea agreement “reflects the will for more enemy and aggressive action” by both allies against Pyongyang, and will put regional peace and security in “more serious danger.”
Kim Yo Jong, a senior foreign policy official in her brother’s regime, said the meeting in Washington further increased North Korea’s conviction to strengthen its nuclear weapons capability.
She said it will be of particular importance for the North Korean government to perfect the “second mission of this deterrent force,” in an apparent reference to the country’s nuclear reinforcement doctrine, which envisions preemptive atomic strikes in a wide range of scenarios in which it might perceive that its government is threatened.
She lashed out at Biden for his categorical warning that a North Korean nuclear aggression could result in the end of the Pyongyang regime, which she described as “old man’s bluster,” “nonsense” and “irresponsible bravado.” However, he said North Korea cannot simply dismiss Biden’s words as “a geezer’s nonsense.”
“The fact that such an expression was directly used by the president of the U.S., a most hostile country, signifies the rhetorical threat that we cannot easily overlook and demands getting ready for the tremendous consequences,” Kim said.
“As the enemies become more fanatical about nuclear war exercises and deploy much more strategic nuclear properties in the Korean Peninsula region, we will resort more, in proportion to it, to the exercise of the right to self-defense,” he added.