Kim Jong Un orders military and nuclear weapons sector to prepare for war and vows to expand partnerships with ‘anti-imperialist’ countries
- North Korea will work more closely with Russia, which has been accused of sending aid to Moscow
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered his country's military, munitions industry and nuclear weapons sector to prepare for war after what he called unprecedented confrontational steps by the US, state media said on Thursday.
Speaking on policy directions for the new year at a key meeting of the country's ruling party on Wednesday, Kim also said Pyongyang would expand strategic cooperation with “anti-imperialist independent” countries, KCNA news agency reported.
North Korea has expanded ties with Russia, among other things, as Washington accuses Pyongyang of supplying military equipment to Moscow for use in its war with Ukraine, while Russia provides technical support to help the North boost its military capabilities.
“He (Kim) outlined the militant tasks for the People's Army and the ammunition industry, nuclear weapons and civilian defense sectors to further accelerate war preparations,” KCNA said.
Kim Jong Un at the December plenary meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee in Pyongyang, in a photo released on December 28, 2023
Kim touted “achievements and victories” that have strengthened national power and increased the country's prestige this year as he opened a meeting to set new policy goals for 2024.
On Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited a frontline military unit in eastern Yeoncheon province to inspect its defense posture and called for immediate retaliation if there was any provocation from North Korea.
“I urge you to immediately and firmly suppress the enemy's will and carry out a provocation on the spot,” Yoon told the troops.
At the party plenum, North Korea's Kim also laid out economic goals for the new year, calling it a “decisive year” to achieve the country's five-year development plan, KCNA said.
“He … clarified the important tasks for the New Year that should be dynamically advanced in the key industrial sectors,” and called for “stabilizing agricultural production at a high level.”
The North has suffered severe food shortages in recent decades, including famine in the 1990s, often due to natural disasters. International experts have warned that border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened food security.
North Korea's crop production is expected to increase year-on-year by 2023 due to favorable weather conditions. But a Seoul official has said the amount is still far below the level needed to address the country's chronic food shortages.
At the same time, the North Korean leader has urged women to have more children while keeping the birth rate steady, a tearful display at a mothers' conference in Pyongyang earlier this month.
A transcript of his speech shows that he also urged parents to “flog” their children and instruct them for military employment or forced labor in the name of strengthening a jaded and stagnant population.
The last census published by North Korea was in 2008, which showed that the country had a population of 24 million. Estimates now indicate that 25.7 million people live in the country.
However, South Korea's government believes that the North's fertility rate has been steadily declining over the past decade.
That's a worrying development for the socialist country that relies on mobilized labor to prop up its broken, heavily sanctioned economy.
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (3-R) and his daughter Ju-ae (2-R) inspect the launch of a Hwasong-18 ICBM at a secret location in North Korea, December 18, 2023
Military tanks take part in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, July 27, 2023
The ninth plenary meeting of the Eighth Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea opened Tuesday, capping a year in which the isolated North enshrined nuclear policy in its constitution, launched a spy satellite and fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
The days-long meeting of party and government officials has been used to make major policy announcements in recent years. State media previously published Kim's speech on New Year's Day.