Standing beside North Korea’s largest missiles, leader Kim Jong Un said his country’s weapons development is necessary in the face of hostile policies from the United States and a military buildup in South Korea, state media said on Tuesday.
Pyongyang was only increasing its military in self-defence and not to start a war, Kim said in a speech at the Defence Development Exhibition on Monday, according to a report by state news agency KCNA.
Kim made the remarks standing next to a variety of weapons, including the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), photos in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed. Among them was the Hwasong-16, North Korea’s largest ICBM, unveiled at a military parade.
“We are not discussing war with anyone, but rather to prevent war itself and to literally increase war deterrence for the protection of national sovereignty,” he said, adding that North Korea’s main enemy is “war itself”.
A spokesperson for South Korea’s defence ministry told a briefing that South Korean and the U.S. intelligence agencies are already analysing the equipment displayed at the exhibition and will continue to closely monitor the situation.
The two Koreas have been in an accelerating arms race, with both sides testing increasingly advanced short-range ballistic missiles and other hardware.
South Korea recently test fired its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, plans to build major new weapons include aircraft carriers, and has bought American-made F-35 stealth fighters.