SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that his country wants to have the most powerful nuclear force in the world. On Sunday, state media said that he promoted dozens of military officers who were involved in the recent launch of a new ballistic missile.
Kim made the announcement after watching a test of the Hwasong-17, North Korea’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), on November 18. He also promised to stop what he called nuclear threats from the United States.
Kim said in the order that promoted the officers that North Korea’s “ultimate goal is to have the world’s most powerful strategic force, the absolute force that has never been seen in a century.” He also said that building up the country’s nuclear capabilities would protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.
He called the Hwasong-17 the “world’s strongest strategic weapon” and said it showed that North Korea was determined and capable of building the world’s strongest army in the future.
Kim was also quoted as saying that North Korean scientists had made a “wonderful leap forward” in developing the technology to put nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles. He also said that the country’s nuclear deterrent capabilities were expected to grow and improve at a very fast rate.
Kim was photographed with scientists, engineers, and military officials who were working on the test.
State media say that the workers promised to defend the “absolute authority” of the party and Kim and that “our missiles will fly strongly only in the direction indicated” by Kim.
The launch of the Hwasong-17, which could reach the U.S. mainland, led the United States to ask for a statement from the president of the United Nations Security Council to hold North Korea accountable for its illegal missile tests, which are banned by Security Council resolutions.
State media also showed that Kim Jong Un was with his daughter when he looked over the officers. Her unexpected first appearance at the Hwasong-17 test has raised the possibility that a fourth generation of Kims could take over as leaders of the totalitarian state.
North Korea’s powerful Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly gave the Hwasong-17 missile the title “DPRK Hero and Gold Star Medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class,” state news agency KCNA said in another statement, using the initials of the country’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The missile clearly showed the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power that can stand up to the nuclear supremacy of the U.S. imperialists,” KCNA said. “It also showed that the DPRK is the strongest ICBM state.”