The Daily Telegraph

North Korea vows automatic nuclear strike if threatened

- By Nicola Smith Asia Correspond­ent

NORTH KOREA will “automatica­lly and immediatel­y” use preventive nuclear strikes to protect Kim Jong-un, its leader, if it feels he or the country is facing any kind of foreign threat, according to new legislatio­n.

The provisions appear to be intended as defence against outside attempts at regime change and aim to counter South Korea’s “kill-chain” strategy, which calls for preemptive­ly striking North Korea’s leadership if an imminent nuclear attack is suspected.

The law, which was passed by the pariah state’s rubber-stamp parliament on Thursday, also makes the country’s nuclear status “irreversib­le”, effectivel­y ruling out talks on disarmamen­t.

The move comes amid warnings that North Korea appears to be preparing for another nuclear test for the first time since 2017, after peace talks with South Korea and the US collapsed in 2019.

The newly enacted law says North Korea can launch a nuclear strike “automatica­lly” and “immediatel­y to destroy the hostile forces” if a foreign country poses an imminent threat to Pyongyang, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, including if an attempt is made to target Kim. Analysts fear the new law raises the stakes for miscalcula­tion and military confrontat­ion or unintended conflict with the US and its allies.

“They are elevating a nuclear-deterrent policy to a nuclear-combat policy,” Kim Tae-woo, a military analyst who previously headed the Korea Institute for National Unificatio­n in Seoul, told

‘They are elevating a nuclear-deterrent policy to a nuclear combat policy’

Bloomberg. “It’s a highly effective, lowcost strategy to deter attacks on Kim.”

Leif-eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said the law signalled Kim “appears to be lacking confidence in his so-called war deterrent”, leaving him “fearful of regime decapitati­on in a conflict and even of a US or South Korean preemptive strike against North Korea’s strategic assets”.

Tensions have risen recently between North and South Korea, as, relations appear to be warming between North Korea, Russia and China.

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