Leader Kim Jong-un declared that North Korea is ready to respond proportionately if the enemy provokes it with nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s central news agency KCNA said leader Kim Jong-un on December 20 met and congratulated the soldiers of the 2nd Company of the Missile General Department, who participated in the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile ( ICBM) Hwasong-18 a few days earlier.
“Mr. Kim Jong-un emphasized that the activities conducted by the company have demonstrated the strong position of the armed forces to protect the country. We will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons. This is a resolute response based on North Korea’s nuclear strategy and doctrine,” KCNA said.
The North Korean leader said that the launch of the Hwasong-18 missile earlier this week demonstrated the military’s high mobility and lightning attack ability and called for increasing the force’s combat effectiveness.
In a statement on the same day, Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, affirmed that the launch was a move to exercise North Korea’s right to self-defense and criticized the United Nations Security Council for holding a meeting.
“The Security Council should pay attention to the irresponsible actions of the United States and South Korea, who are escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula through a series of military provocations throughout the year,” she said.
US and Korean officials have not commented on the information.
The launch on December 18 was the third time North Korea successfully tested a Hwasong-18 missile using solid fuel, after successful tests in April and July. Experts estimate this type of missile has a range of more than 15,000 km if launched at the optimal angle, enough to cover the entire US territory.
Pyongyang describes the Hwasong-18 as an ICBM line with a high-performance multi-stage solid fuel engine, equipped with stage separation technology and a highly reliable control system.
North Korea‘s previous intercontinental ballistic missiles all used liquid fuel, which is much easier to manufacture than solid fuel missiles. However, solid-fuel rockets possess a series of outstanding advantages.
They do not take much time to refuel before launching, increase mobility, are difficult to detect by enemy reconnaissance systems and can be deployed from many different locations. Solid fuel rockets also take less time and effort to maintain and move than liquid fuel.
Developing ICBMs using solid fuel has long been one of Pyongyang’s key goals: to increase the survivability of its strategic missile forces in the event of a conflict.