Kim Jong-un presents goals to strengthen regime defense at party gathering
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presented goals for strengthening the regime’s defense to members of the ruling Workers’ Party during an ongoing party gathering, Pyongyang’s state media reported Wednesday.
On Tuesday — the second day of the 6th enlarged plenary session of the party’s 8th Central Committee — Kim delivered a report on the “newly created challenging situation” on the Korean Peninsula and the international political landscape, according to the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“He specified the principles of foreign affairs and the direction of the struggle against the enemy that our party and government must thoroughly follow in order to protect sovereign rights and defend national interests,” the report said.
The KCNA also said that Kim presented “new core goals for strengthening self-defensive capabilities to be strongly pursued in 2023” to “prepare for changes from various directions in the political situation.”
The state news agency did not provide details on what bolstering the regime’s defenses might entail, but Kim’s comments on the first day of the three-day party gathering provided clues that the regime’s pursuit or testing of weapons of mass destruction would not slow down next year.
“We will formulate a more furious and confident struggle strategy grounded in our perseverance through everything and our practical progress in overcoming difficulties,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying on Monday.
Pyongyang also passed a law in September authorizing first-use of nuclear weapons if the regime’s leadership is threatened by an attack.
Kim also said Monday that the events of 2022 constituted “a noble experience” for the regime by imparting a “deep understanding of the unique nature of the recently formed internal and external environment” and “clarifying the direction of progress in national affairs,” but did not clarify from which domestic or international developments the North drew its lessons.
The key party meeting has continued amid a backdrop of sharply escalated tensions on the peninsula, following a year in which the North launched a record 67 ballistic missiles, including eight intercontinental ballistic missiles and two medium-range ballistic missiles that it said carried a test satellite as part of a final test before the regime launches a spy satellite next year.
On Monday, five drones from the North crossed the inter-Korean border, triggering a failed interception effort by South Korea’s military and the disruption of civilian flights from Incheon and Gimpo airports near Seoul.
In the face of the North’s advancing missile threat, South Korea and the United States agreed to enhance their security cooperation by conducting joint military exercises and regularly rotating U.S. strategic assets through the region.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]