(Update 1: Adds details, changes headline, lede, minor edits)
Seoul, Jan 1 (EFE).- South Korea’s president on Sunday ordered the military to decisively retaliate against Pyongyang’s provocations hours after it launched a new ballistic missile and North Korea’s leader named Seoul as an “undoubted enemy” and called for an increase in short-range nuclear weapons.
Yoon Suk-yeol was speaking during a virtual meeting held with the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) General Kim Seung-kyum and other commanders.
“Our military must resolutely retaliate against any provocation by the enemy,” the president said in a statement issued by his office.
“I call on you to bear in mind that only our soldiers’ solid mental readiness and practical training can guarantee strong national security,” he added.
Yoon also warned that “North Korea will continue to launch provocations using various symmetrical and asymmetrical means while advancing its nuclear and missile threats.”
The JCS urged Pyongyang in another statement to return to the path of denuclearization and assured that Seoul is prepared to punish any North Korean provocation.
Sunday morning’s missile was launched from the Ryongsong area of Pyongyang at around 2.50 am (18:50 GMT Saturday), and flew some 400 kilometers before splashing into the sea, the JCS said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un demanded the need to “exponentially” increase his arsenal of short-range nuclear weapons, stressing that the South is an “undoubted enemy,” state news agency KCNA reported Sunday.
In a situation where South Korea has become “our undoubted enemy, it highlights the importance and necessity of a mass-producing of tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal,” he said at the close of an important plenary meeting of the sole party that concluded the previous day in Pyongyang.
Kim urged every effort to produce weapons to “overwhelm” the enemy, implying that in 2023 the regime will maintain the same dynamics.
The increase in the number of missile tests, which in 2022 totaled almost 50, responds on the one hand to the weapons modernization plan approved in January 2021 and on the other has been used to reply to Seoul and Washington, which, given Pyongyang’s lack of willingness to talk, last year resumed large-scale military maneuvers and the rotational deployment of US strategic assets on the peninsula.
“Our nuclear force considers it as the first mission to deter war and safeguard peace and stability and, however, if it fails to deter, it will carry out the second mission, which will not be for defense,” Kim warned in his speech.
At the same time, the KCNA news agency published additional information stating that the weaponry Pyongyang on Saturday and Sunday fired “super-large” caliber artillery shots.
On Saturday, the JCS reported that the regime launched three short-range ballistic missiles, and another Sunday.
But according to the article by the North Korean state news agency, it is a new 600-millimeter rocket launcher that Kim said can be equipped with tactical nuclear warheads and was presented during the aforementioned plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party.
At the closing of the meeting, the North Korean leader also urged the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and to soon put into orbit a reconnaissance satellite that the regime recently tested and intends to have ready in April. EFE