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North Korea raises nuclear threat again after US aircraft carrier battle group arrives in Busan

Kim's motive to bolster efforts to modernise North Korean weaponry has been seen as a response to growing military cooperation between the US and South Korea. Washington and Seoul have maintained that these drills are defensive in nature.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Pyongyang Published on: October 13, 2023 17:07 IST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Image Source : AP North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

North Korea once again threatened nuclear action on Friday after a US aircraft carrier battle group arrived in South Korea's Busan, calling it a provocation and saying that it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons to defend itself.

The USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group arrived in the southeastern port of Busan after a naval exercise between the United States, Japan and South Korea earlier this week. South Korean officials said that the carrier will be docked as part of an agreement to increase the temporary deployments of powerful US military assets in response to the North's growing nuclear programme.

The North Korean state-controlled media called the carrier's arrival "an undisguised military provocation" that proves the realisation of an imminent US plan to attack Pyongyang. It also accused of US of spreading a "groundless and false rumour" of Hamas using North Korean weapons on Israel recently.

"The (North Korean) doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons already opened to the public allows the execution of necessary action procedures in case a nuclear attack is launched against it or it is judged that the use of nuclear weapons against it is imminent," said the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea has argued that it has been forced to develop nuclear weapons in the face of a possible invasion by the US and South Korea. In spite of its increasing threats to use such weapons, Pyongyang is still outgunned by the US and South Korean forces and is unlikely to use its nuclear arms first, even as it will continue to develop them.

North Korea's tensions with the US, South Korea

North Korea has often responded furiously to the deployment of US strategic assets to South Korea such as aircraft carriers, long-range bombers and nuclear-powered submarines, as well as US joint training exercises with Seoul, calling them "rehearsal for invasion".

Many experts say North Korea heightens tensions with its rivals to provide a pretext for expanding its nuclear arsenal and then uses the arms as leverage to wrest greater outside concessions. Pyongyang has conducted over 100 missile tests for 'preparing' against US-South Korean military drills.

North Korea also adopted a law last year that stipulates a broad range of situations in which it can use nuclear weapons, including when it determines that its leadership faces an imminent attack by hostile forces or when it needs to prevent an unspecified catastrophic crisis to its people and government.

In response, the US and South Korea have warned that any attempt by North Korea to use nuclear weapons would result in the end of the North's government led by Kim Jong Un.

Kim said he would bolster efforts to build powerful warships and modernize shipboard and underwater weapons systems for the North's navy. He called for the country's sailors to build “overwhelming ideological and spiritual strength,” saying that is more important than the numerical or technical superiority of weapons, according to KCNA.

North Korea launched a nuclear attack submarine last month as part of efforts to counter the naval power of the United States and its allies in Asia. The submarine has been in development for several years amid tensions with the US.

(with AP inputs)

ALSO READ | VIDEO: US soldier Travis King arrives back in country after North Korea expulsion, Biden thanks China

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