North Korea says its nukes are about the children after photos dropped of Kim Jong Un bringing his daughter to a missile launch
- Kim Jong Un brought his daughter to the test launch of an ICBM last Friday.
- New photos appeared to show the two holding hands, with a massive missile in the background.
North Korea said this weekend that its nuclear weapons programs are about protecting the country's children after photographs were released showing the country's leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter at a missile launch.
New images released on Friday by state media showed Kim at the launch site of what North Korea identified as Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile with a young girl who has not previously appeared in photos or videos out of North Korea. State media outlet KCNA confirmed that the North Korean leader attended the launch "with his beloved daughter and wife."
The photographs were notable because Kim, who is believed to have three children, has historically been quite secretive about his family and personal life, though his wife Ri Sol Ju occasionally appears in photos. In the various images, Kim could be seen holding a young girl's hand, sometimes with the massive Hwasong-17 in the background.
On Sunday, two days after the missile test, North Korean state media reported that Kim views nuclear weapons as a critical aspect of protecting the country's children from a hypothetical US attack, according to the North Korea news and analysis site NK News.
Nuclear weapons are "monuments to be passed down to our descendants for generations to come," the state-run outlet Rodong Sinmun, the paper of the ruling Worker's Party, said, according to NK News. It added that Kim's pursuit of nuclear weapons is intended to prevent "the heartbreaking situation of our children ending up on the streets foraging for food after losing their mothers in enemy bombardments."
NK News further reported that the paper said that Kim's is as determined to build nuclear weapons as "the hostile forces are in their hatred [for us] and attempts steal the bright smiles off the faces of our children." In September, the North Korean leader declared North Korea's nuclear-armed status irreversible.
The Hwasong-17 missile launched last week was first unveiled in October 2020 and is North Korea's biggest missile yet — estimated to be able to travel over 9,000 miles after being launched from a transporter erector launcher, according to Reuters. On Friday, it flew on a lofted trajectory for a little over an hour and landed in the ocean over 600 miles away.
Friday's launch is the second time this month that North Korea has tested an ICBM, which is a long-range weapon capable of delivering conventional and nuclear warheads to distant targets at least 3,400 miles away. The test of this latest missile came as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently soared.
Earlier in the month, Pyongyang fired a barrage of short-range ballistic missiles and surface-to-air missiles in response to joint military drills between the US and South Korea. At one point, North Korea sent well over 100 warplanes just north of the two countries' shared borders, prompting the Seoul to scramble its military aircraft.
The missile launches in November have drawn criticism from the US and some allies.
"This launch is a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and demonstrates the threat the DPRK's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to the DPRK's neighbors, the region, international peace and security, and the global non-proliferation regime," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Friday afternoon, using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
He added that "this action demonstrates the need for all countries to fully implement DPRK-related UN Security Council resolutions that are intended to prohibit the DPRK from acquiring the technologies and materials needed to carry out these destabilizing tests."
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