North Korea’s Kim Jong Un vows to expand nuclear capacity at ‘fastest possible speed’

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North Korean military parade on TV.

North Korean military parade on TV. Woohae Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to expand his country’s nuclear stockpile “at the fastest possible speed,” and threatened to use it “if any forces, regardless of who they are, try to infringe upon our fundamental interests,” The Associated Press reports Tuesday per state media.

Kim’s comments, which arrived during a Monday night military parade intended to mark the 90th anniversary of North Korea’s army, suggest “he will continue provocative weapons tests in a pressure campaign to wrest concessions from the U.S. and other rivals,” AP writes.

“We will continue to implement measures aimed at strengthening and developing our country’s nuclear forces at the maximum speed,” the leader told troops and spectators.

During the parade, North Korea showcased its newest and largest intercontinental ballistic missile — the Hwasong-17 — which it claimed to have test-fired last month.

Kim’s nuclear expansion push appears to be at least partially after recognition from the U.S., which has yet to accept North Korea as a serious nuclear power, per AP. The speech at the parade, meanwhile, might serve to warn newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol of Kim’s expected hard-line stance toward the South, The New York Times reports.

“The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter war,” Kim added Monday, “but if an undesirable situation emerges on our land, our nuclear forces cannot be limited to a single mission of preventing war.”

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