The North Korean parliament has passed a new law allowing the country’s army to launch an automatic and immediate nuclear strike in the event of an attack by any nuclear country or the origin of a provocation, state-run media reported on Friday.
The new law passed by the Supreme People’s Assembly was formally promulgated on Thursday, empowering its armed forces to use nuclear weapons if an attack with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction was initiated or grew near, the Korean Central News Agency stated.
According to the legislation, the government would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states unless they joined hostilities or attacked Pyongyang, it added.
Pyongyang asserted that it is a responsible nuclear weapons state and that its nuclear arsenal is a way of preventing war on the Korean peninsula and in northeast Asia, as well as ensuring global strategic stability.
“The opening of the DPRK’s policy on the nuclear forces and legal stipulation of the use of nuclear weapons are aimed to reduce the danger of a nuclear war to the maximum by preventing misjudge among nuclear weapons states and misuse of nuclear weapons,” the media outlet reported, citing a government statement.
Nuclear weapons can also be used in case a “fatal military attack” against important strategic objects of the state was launched or approached, according to the new law.
“In another case, an inevitable situation in which it is compelled to correspond with catastrophic crisis to the existence of the state and safety of the people by only nuclear weapons is created,” it said, adding that the law also guaranteed the establishment of safe nuclear weapon maintenance, management, and protection.
The country also allowed its forces to continue upgrading and increasing its nuclear arsenal.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has rejected any plan to abandon his nuclear program, accusing the US of attempting to topple his regime.
“The aim of the United States is not just to eliminate our nuclear weapons themselves but also ultimately to bring down our regime anytime by forcing (North Korea) to put down nuclear weapons and give up or weaken the power to exercise self-defense,” Kim was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
He also ruled out resuming negotiations with Washington on denuclearization.
He added that the North should incessantly expand the scope of its “tactical nuclear operation” to bolster its nuclear combat posture, according to the outlet.
North Korea’s latest announcement came after the US, South Korea, and Japan last week issued a joint warning that if it conducts another nuclear test, they will respond collectively.
Tension on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang “further worsens the situation.”
However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.