North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered his country’s nuclear arsenal to be ready for pre-emptive use “at any time,” Agence France-Presse reports. Tensions are high after the U.N. Security Council approved stringent new sanctions on Pyongyang last week, and South Korea passed new human rights legislation.
“We must always be ready to fire our nuclear warheads at any time,” the North’s official KCNA news agency quoted Kim saying Friday. A day earlier, the Associated Press reports, North Korea fired six short-range projectiles—possibly missiles, possibly artillery, possibly rockets—into the sea off its east coast.
From the AP:
Thursday’s firings were seen as a “low-level” response to the U.N. sanctions, with North Korea unlikely to launch any major provocation until its landmark ruling Workers’ Party convention in May, according to Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
North Korea has not issued an official reaction to the new U.N. sanctions. But citizens in its capital, Pyongyang, interviewed by The Associated Press said Thursday they believe their country can fight off any sanctions.
“No kind of sanctions will ever work on us, because we’ve lived under U.S. sanctions for more than half a century,” said Pyongyang resident Song Hyo Il. “And in the future, we’re going to build a powerful and prosperous country here, relying on our own development.”
“At an extreme time when the Americans...are urging war and disaster on other countries and people, the only way to defend our sovereignty and right to live is to bolster our nuclear capability,” Kim said, according to KCNA. AFP described this kind of rhetoric as “routine.”
On Monday, the UVA student imprisoned in North Korea since the beginning of the year, Otto Warmbier, begged to be released back to the United States.