The world is one step away from a large-scale nuclear conflict, North Korean Defense Minister and General Kang Sun-nam told the International Security Conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
The defense minister accused the powers in Washington of raising tensions and trying to force a regime change in the country – but also of increasing their military presence in the region and deploying nuclear-capable aircraft and submarines in North Korea’s vicinity, according to Russian state broadcaster RT.
– Now, the question is not if a nuclear war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, but who starts it when. In this year alone, the US sent “massive strategic arms” to the region, including a nuclear-capable submarine, an aircraft carrier group, and a nuclear-capable bomber, Kang said.
U.S. warships arrived at a military port in South Korea in late March, shortly after North Korea unveiled its new nuclear-armed warheads, which are believed to be capable of being mounted on short-range ballistic missiles.
A few months later, in June, a U.S. bomber took part in exercises with South Korea. Two weeks later, a nuclear-armed Trident II submarine was sent to the area.
– The US, which has been waging a hostile state policy against [North] Korea … for 80 years, blatantly interferes with the independent development and security interests of the North and pushes the situation in North-Eastern Asia to the brink of a nuclear war, Kang said.
He argues that leaders in Washington must “recognize their belligerent policies” and “abandon their confrontational approach” if the crisis is to be resolved peacefully. Until then, he said, diplomacy and dialogue are impossible.
– We are well aware of the fact that the aggressive intention of the US to strip us of our nuclear weapons and destroy our system through brute force cannot be changed even in the slightest, he added.
The general’s comments come shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered stepped-up preparations for a possible future war – including expanded weapons production and intensified military exercises.