North Korea Says It Will Strike With Nuclear Weapons If South Attacks: KCNA

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
April 6, 2022 Updated: April 6, 2022

SEOUL—North Korea opposes war but would use nuclear weapons if South Korea attacked, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, said on Tuesday, in a warning that analysts said is probably aimed at the South’s incoming conservative president.

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in the North Korean regime, said it was a “very big mistake” for South Korea’s minister of defense to make recent remarks discussing attacks on the North, state news agency KCNA reported.

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook had said on Friday that his country’s military has a variety of missiles with significantly improved range, accuracy, and power, with “the ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea.”

Both Koreas have increased displays of military strength after North Korea test-fired a range of increasingly powerful missiles this year. Officials in Seoul and Washington also fear it may be preparing to resume testing nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017 amid stalled negotiations.

Kim and another North Korean official issued earlier statements on Sunday condemning Suh’s remarks, and warned that Pyongyang would destroy major targets in Seoul if the South takes any “dangerous military action” such as a preemptive strike.

Kim’s criticisms are most likely aimed at South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who has called for a more muscular defense against North Korean threats, said Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the U.S.-based 38 North project, which monitors North Korea.

“Yoon’s ‘preemptive strike’ comment made the headlines a few months ago, and Pyongyang is seizing Suh’s remarks to make a point to the incoming South Korean administration,” she said. “North Korea has thus far refrained from criticizing Yoon at any authoritative level, but it certainly seems to be laying the groundwork for it.”

The statements suggest Pyongyang is preparing the North Korean public for a possible shift in inter-Korean relations once Yoon takes office in May, Lee added.

A delegation from Yoon’s team was in Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials, who reiterated their commitment to defending South Korea, according to a statement by the U.S. State Department on Tuesday.

Reuters