North Korea said Friday its two latest rounds of weapons tests this week were successful while vowing to bolster its nuclear “war deterrent” and speed up the development of more powerful warheads.
It appeared North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the tests on Tuesday and Thursday, which were detected by the militaries of neighbors South Korea and Japan. But Kim did inspect a munitions factory where workers pledged loyalty to their leader, who “smashes with his bold pluck the challenges of U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces," state media said.
North Korea has been ramping up its testing activity in recent months, including six rounds of weapons launches so far in 2022, demonstrating its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear diplomacy with the United States.
While aggressively expanding his military capabilities despite limited resources, Kim is also reviving Pyongyang’s old playbook of brinkmanship to wrest concessions from Washington, which leads international sanctions over the North's nuclear program.