North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to build an “invincible” military, as he accused the United States of creating tensions and not taking action to prove it has no hostile intent toward the North.
In an apparent continued effort to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, Kim also said his drive to build up his military isn’t targeted at South Korea.
He said there shouldn’t be another war pitting Korean people against each other.
Kim gave the speech on Monday at the “Defence Development Exhibition ‘Self-Defence-2021’,” an event meant to mark the previous day’s 76th birthday of the ruling Workers’ Party.
The event featured an array of new weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea has already test-launched or displayed during a military parade.
“The US has frequently signalled it’s not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to make us believe that they are not hostile,” Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
“The US is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions.”
Calling the United States a “source” of instability on the Korean Peninsula, Kim said his country’s most important objective is possessing an “invincible military capability” that no one can dare challenge.
North Korea not out to make enemies of South Korea or US
He said the build-up of North Korea's military is more about self defence rather than casting hostilities between an individual enemy.
"Our enemy is war itself, not a certain country or forces like South Korea and the U.S.," Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Lim saying.
"But our external efforts for peace does not in any way mean giving up our rights to self-defence."
Kim accused South Korea of hypocrisy because it criticises North Korea’s weapons development as provocations while spending heavily to increase its own military capabilities, including purchasing advanced US stealth fighters.
But he still said his military doesn’t target South Korea.
“I say once again that South Korea isn’t the one that our military forces have to fight against,” Kim said.
“Surely, we aren’t strengthening our defence capability because of South Korea. We shouldn’t repeat a horrible history of compatriots using force against each other.”
North Korea's 'message'
Seoul’s Defence Ministry said South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analysing the North Korean weapons displayed but didn’t elaborate.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday’s exhibition was the first of its kind since Kim took power in 2011.
Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the weapons shown in the photos were largely what the North has already displayed during military parades.
Among them was what appears to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that North Korea disclosed during a military parade last year but hasn’t test-fired, Yang said.
That missile mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle during the parade is considered to be the North’s biggest-yet ICBM.
South Korean media reported Monday’s exhibition also featured another ICBM and shorter-range missiles that North Korea has already test-launched.
Rivals get mixed signals from North Korea
North Korea has sent mixed signals toward its rivals in recent weeks.
Last month, North Korea performed its first missile tests in six months, including nuclear-capable weapons that could reach targets in South Korea and Japan, including US military bases there.
But North Korea still restored dormant phone and fax channels with South Korea and said it’s open to restarting official talks with South Korea if conditions are met.
Some experts say North Korea is attempting to use South Korea’s desire to improve ties to pressure it to convince the United States to relax punishing economic sanctions on the North and make other concessions.
North Korea has long sought improved ties with the United States because it wants sanctions relief and a better security environment to focus on reviving its moribund economy.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.