The White House said in a statement Tuesday that its National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stressed the need for North Korea to refrain from “escalation actions and also reaffirmed US support for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.”
This came during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Suh Hoon in Washington.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said developing weapons is necessary to counter hostile US policies and South Korea’s military buildup, state media reported on Tuesday.
And a report by the Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying in a speech at the defense development exhibition, that Pyongyang is increasing its military strength in self-defense, not to wage war.
Pictures published by the ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, show that Kim made these statements while standing next to a variety of weapons, including ICBMs, including the Hwasong-16 missile, which is the largest ICBM in North Korea and was revealed in a military parade in October 2020 but not yet tested.
“We don’t discuss war with anyone, we discuss preventing war itself and literally strengthening deterrence in order to protect national sovereignty,” Kim said.
A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman told a news briefing that South Korean and US intelligence services are already analyzing the weapons shown at the exhibition and will continue to closely monitor the situation.
The two Koreas are in an accelerating arms race, as they test advanced short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons.
South Korea recently tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, plans to manufacture new major weapons, including aircraft carriers, and has also purchased US F-35 stealth fighters.
North Korea is pressing ahead with its missile program, and analysts say it has begun a major expansion of its main nuclear reactor, used to produce fuel for nuclear bombs.