North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes his daughter to visit the troops


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed the «unlimited strength» of his nuclear-armed army as he visited the troops with his daughter to mark the 75th anniversary of his army’s founding, media said Wednesday. state.

The visit came amid indications that North Korea is preparing to stage a massive military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, where it could display the latest hardware in a burgeoning nuclear weapons program, stoking concern among its neighbors and USA.

North Korea’s official Central News Agency said Kim visited an unspecified barracks with his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, and later Tuesday delivered an encouraging speech to the troops at a banquet, praising them for maintaining the «strongest army.» of the world» despite external difficulties.

The visit came a day after Kim chaired a meeting with his top military commanders and called for an expansion of combat exercises aimed at improving war readiness as he seeks to escalate an already provocative run in weapons demonstrations in front of the growing tensions with its neighbors and Washington.

North Korea has not confirmed plans for a military parade, which could possibly take place later on Wednesday.

Commercial satellite images have shown weeks of apparent preparations involving large numbers of soldiers and civilians for an event that is generally aimed at glorifying the Kim government and its relentless drive to consolidate the North’s status as a nuclear power.

North Korea is also facing deepening economic isolation and food shortages, showing that the costs of Kim’s nuclear ambitions are mounting.

North Korea is coming off a record year for weapons tests, and the dozens of missiles it fired in 2022 included potentially nuclear systems designed to strike targets in South Korea and the continental United States.

The intensification of test activity was marked by fiery statements threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against its neighbors and the United States in a wide range of scenarios in which North Korea may perceive its leadership as under threat.

Animosity could rise in the coming months with Kim doubling down on his nuclear push going into 2023.

During a major political conference in December, Kim called for an «exponential increase» in the country’s nuclear warheads, the mass production of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons against «enemy» South Korea and the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. most powerful that could reach the continental United States. .

In addition to development tests, North Korea could also increase its military demonstrations in response to expanding combined US military exercises with South Korea, which the allies say are aimed at countering the evolving threat from the North.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warned last week that the country is prepared to counter US military moves with the «most overwhelming nuclear force,» condemning US plans to expand its joint exercise with South Korea and deploy resources more advanced military such as bombers and aircraft carriers for the region.

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