North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country's intends to have the world's most powerful nuclear force as he promoted dozens of military officers involved in the recent launch of a new ballistic missile, state media reported on Sunday.
Reuters said that the announcement comes after Kim inspected a Nov. 18 test of the Hwasong-17, North Korea's largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and pledged to counter what he called US nuclear threats.
North Korea's "ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century," Kim said in the order promoting the officers, adding that building up the country's nuclear capabilities would reliably protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.
He described the Hwasong-17 as the "world's strongest strategic weapon" and said it demonstrated North Korea's resolve and ability to eventually build the world's strongest army.
North Korean scientists have made a "wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles," and were expected to expand and strengthen the country's nuclear deterrent capabilities at an extraordinarily rapid pace, Kim was also quoted as saying.
Kim was pictured in photos posing with scientists, engineers and military officials involved in the test.
According to state media, those workers pledged to defend the "absolute authority" of the party and Kim, and vowed that "our missiles will fly vigorously only in the direction indicated" by Kim.
Kim’s daughter made a public appearance again. She’s only about 10, but her new, bold photos are deepening the debate over whether she’s being primed as a successor.
The daughter, believed to be Kim’s second child named Ju Ae and about 9 or 10 years old, was first unveiled to the outside world last weekend in state media photos showing her observing the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch the previous day with her parents and other older officials. The daughter wearing a white puffy coat and red shoes was shown walking hand-in-hand with Kim past a huge missile loaded on a launch truck and watching a soaring weapon.
On Sunday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency mentioned her for the second time, saying she and Kim took group photos with scientists, officials and others involved in what it called the test-launch of its Hwasong-17 ICBM.