(SEOUL) Nuclear-armed North Korea wants to have “the most powerful strategic power in the world,” its leader Kim Jong-un vowed during a ceremony celebrating the launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. The young daughter made her second public appearance.
Mr. Kim gave a massive series of promotions to the military and scientists involved in the development of the new Hwasong-17, dubbed a “monster missile” by military analysts, capable of reaching the continental United States. The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was test-fired in the Sea of Japan on November 18.
The Hwasong-17 is “the world’s most powerful strategic weapon” and “a remarkable leap forward in the development of technology for loading nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles,” the leader was quoted as saying by North Korean state news agency KCNA on Sunday.
The program’s scientists, soldiers and managers have contributed to the “goal of building the world’s strongest military,” he reiterated.
In his order to reward those participating in the weapons program, the president stressed that the purpose of developing nuclear power was to “credibly protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.”
It is “the greatest and most important revolutionary cause, and its ultimate goal is to have the most powerful strategic power in the world, an absolute power unprecedented in the century,” he declared.
Pyongyang’s promotion of the Hwasong-17 test launch was aimed at enhancing its status as a nuclear power, said Hong Min of Korea’s Institute for National Unification.
“While the Hwasong-15 (launched in 2017) was intended to become a nation capable of threatening US territory with nuclear weapons, the latest missile focuses on the goal of becoming a more powerful state with an ICBM,” he said.
Official Gazette Rodong Simun Also released on Sunday were more than a dozen photos showing Kim Jong-un posing with “his beloved daughter” along with hundreds of civilians and soldiers during the ceremony. His presence was first revealed in November, when North Korean media published photos of his father holding a Hwasong-17 launch.
Photographs taken on Sunday show the teenager, believed to be Kim Jong-un’s second child and named Ju Ae, wearing a black coat and holding hands with her father. Some pictures show the father and daughter posing together in front of a missile with soldiers in uniform.
The baby’s sudden appearance has revived speculation about a future dynastic transfer of power in North Korea, where Kim Jong-un succeeds his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. South Korean intelligence agencies believe Kim, who married in 2009, has three children.
For Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, being Kim Jong-un’s daughter is intended to portray Hwasong-17 as a “guardian of future generations.”
“It seems that he will continue to parade his daughter on various occasions and use it as a propaganda tool,” he added.
In addition to promotions for participants in the weapons program, the regime awarded the vehicle that launched the missile on Nov. 18 with the distinction of “Hero of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (DPRK, North Korea’s official name), KCNA added. In another dispatch.
The launch “clearly demonstrated to the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power,” the official agency said.
The regime is self-congratulatory as Seoul, Washington and Tokyo step up military cooperation and joint tactics in the region, following Pyongyang’s series of missile tests and tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea declared its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” in September, effectively closing the door to talks on its disarmament. He then threatened the US with nuclear retaliation if the attack happened.
Seoul and Washington also expect Pyongyang to conduct a nuclear test soon, its seventh in its history and first in five years.