• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

New North Korea law outlines nuclear weapons use, including preemptive strikes

A North Korean flag billows in the propaganda village of Gijungdong in North Korea, located near the ceasefire village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

SEOUL, Sept 9 (Reuters) – A new legislation passed by North Korea’s legislature has legally recognized the country’s right to use preemptive nuclear attacks to safeguard itself, according to state media, which stated that leader Kim Jong Un declared its nuclear status “irreversible” and banned denuclearization discussions.

The decision comes amid reports that North Korea is preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, following historic summits with then-U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders in 2018.

The country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, passed the bill on Thursday as a replacement to a 2013 law that first defined North Korea’s nuclear position, according to state news agency KCNA.

Kim said in a speech to the assembly, “The utmost significance of legislating nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons,” He added that he would never give up the warheads even if faced with 100 years of sanctions from other countries.

A nuclear attack could be triggered by various scenarios, such as an imminent nuclear strike against the country, aperil to the country’s citizens or its very existence, or even gaining strategic advantage during wartime.

“Actually spelling out the conditions for use are especially rare, and it may simply be a product of North Korea’s position, how much it values nuclear weapons, and how essential it sees them for its survival.”

Rob York, director for regional affairs at the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum

A deputy at the assembly said that the law would serve as a legal guarantee to preserve North Korea’s position as a nuclear weapons state, KCNA reported. Furthermore, this law will keep their policy standardized and ensure its transparency.


According to the new legislation, North Korea may use nuclear weapons preemptively in response to an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction or against the country’s “strategic targets,” including its leadership.

“In a nutshell, there are some really vague and ambiguous circumstances in which North Korea is now saying it might use its nuclear weapons.” He said on Twitter.

“I imagine the purpose is to give U.S. and South Korean military planners pause for thought over a much wider range of actions than before.”

Chad O’Carroll, founder of the North Korea-tracking website NK News

The new version of the law, like its predecessor, prohibits North Korea from threatening non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons unless they ally with a nuclear-armed country to attack the North. The new legislation states that it has the right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it senses an impending assault on either the Kim leadership or the command structure of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. That appears to be a reference to South Korea’s “Kill Chain” plan, which advocates for preemptively striking North Korean nuclear infrastructure and command system in the event of an anticipated assault.

North Korea says it tested difficult-to-stop ‘hypersonic missile’ | The Japan Times

According to Kim, the situation is worsening and Pyongyang must prepare for long-term tensions, which he cited as evidence of this in the form of Kill Chain, a portion of South Korea’s three-pronged military strategy that is being bolstered under new President Yoon Suk-yeol. Kim has “all decisive powers” over nuclear weapons under the law, but if command and control infrastructure is jeopardized during a crisis, nuclear missiles may be fired “on demand.” If Kim gives launch authority down to lower level officials during a crisis, analysts warn that the chances of a catastrophic mistake will increase.


According to KCNA, the law bans any sharing of nuclear weapons or technology with other nations, as it aims to reduce the risk of nuclear war by preventing miscalculations among nuclear weapons states and weapon misuse. Kim’s aim is to achieve international recognition of North Korea’s position as a “responsible nuclear state.”

Despite strained cross-border relations, the South Korean government on Thursday made its first overture under Yoon and proposed to talk to North Korea about reunions for families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea has refused peace talks in the past, stating that America and its allies are still exhibiting “hostile policies” such as military training and sanctions.

“As long as nuclear weapons remain on earth and imperialism remains and maneuvers of the United States and its followers against our republic are not terminated, our work to strengthen nuclear force will not cease,” Kim said.

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