North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un credited the nation’s illegal nuclear weapons program for eradicating war from the country in a speech on Monday to veterans of the Korean War.
Kim reiterated the regime’s position that nuclear weapons are necessary to prevent the United States from invading the country and turning into a free and functional capitalist state. While seemingly a departure from Kim’s “commitment to complete denuclearization” in a statement he signed following a summit with President Donald Trump in 2018, North Korea has traditionally defined “denuclearization” as the absence of any American presence on the Korean peninsula, not the end of North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons development.
Kim spoke on Monday in front of the Sixth National Conference of War Veterans, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official propaganda news outlet of North Korea. The South Korean newswire service Yonhap noted it was the first time in five years that Kim addressed the conference, which brings together veterans of the Korean War, but only one conference has been held between 2015 and today.
KCNA reported that Kim titled the speech, “The Feats Performed by the Great Victors Will Remain for Ever.” The full text in English the outlet published indicated that Kim focused heavily on the fact that active hostilities between the parties to the Korean War had not occurred in decades. The Korean War began in 1950 and, since no party — the two Koreas, China, and the United States — signed a peace treaty, is technically ongoing today, but active hostilities ended with an armistice in 1953. The North Korean communist regime refers to the Korean War as the “Fatherland Liberation War.”
North Korea did not possess nuclear weapons in 1953, but Kim nonetheless credited them for the paused status of the war today.
“As we must have an absolute strength with which to prevent and deter the war itself so as not to experience once again the pains and sufferings of the war in the 1950s, we have advanced along the road of self-development toward a nuclear state by braving all pressures and challenges and overcoming unprecedented adversity which would have brought others to their knees one hundred times,” Kim reportedly asserted. “And now we have become able to reliably defend ourselves against any form of high-intensity pressure and military threat by imperialist reactionaries and other hostile forces.”
“War is an armed clash which can be unleashed only against a weak one,” Kim asserted. “None can now make little of us. We will not allow others to look down upon us and, if they do so, make them pay dearly.”
“Thanks to our reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrence, the word war would no longer exist on this land, and the security and future of our state will be guaranteed for ever,” Kim promised.
Kim appeared to contradict himself later, asserting that, despite the fact that war allegedly did not “exist” in North Korea, peace did not, either.
“The history of nearly 70 years after the war cannot be called peacetime as a fierce confrontation with the enemy has continued, and the threat and pressure by the imperialists to invade and plunder our state have increased moment by moment,” Kim reportedly said. He nonetheless thanked the veterans for their role in making North Korea a nuclear state, a “strategic position the world cannot ignore.”
Kim has reportedly pushed for his country to be recognized as a formal nuclear power in the past, alongside two of the other participants in the Korean War. Last year, a report claimed that Kim approached President Donald Trump with a proposal for Washington to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power as part of another summit between the two leaders. The recognition, like Kim’s alleged demand for “famous basketball players,” never materialized.
The dictator went on to assert that North Korea had crushed America, the world’s greatest military power, and that it had defeated “capitalism” and “U.S. imperialists.”
“You, staunch war veterans, defeated the U.S. imperialists that had boasted of being the ‘strongest’ in the world and the armies of their followers and weathered those severe years and all sorts of hardships;” Kim said, “but as the saying goes that time and tide wait for no man, many of the veterans have passed away and the hair of you, present here, has turned gray. Seeing this, I feel sorry and regretful that time flies.”
“The great Fatherland Liberation War was a grim war for defending our Republic in its cradle and the destiny and future of tens of millions of our people and, at the same time, the first all-out war between the forces aspiring after independence and the dominationist forces, between socialism and capitalism,” Kim continued. “[I]n this war our new-born Republic checked the military offensive by the U.S. imperialists, who had been boasting of being the ‘strongest’ in the world, and their vassal forces and defended its territory and sovereignty at the cost of blood.”
Yonhap speculated that Kim made an appearance before the veterans — highest in the social strata of the communist regime for their personal sacrifices in fighting America and South Korea — to help “tightening internal unity” during a particularly turbulent time for North Korea.
After three years of strict international sanctions following its last nuclear test, North Korea’s economy is struggling enough for even the wealthiest in the Party hierarchy to be impacted. North Korea is also reportedly enduring a brutal, secret Chinese coronavirus epidemic, reportedly documenting as many as 500 deaths. Pyongyang officially claims to have confirmed zero cases of Chinese coronavirus, though it alleged to have identified a potential case this week: a refugee who clandestinely returned from South Korea after allegedly being accused of rape.