North Korea's Kim says US is 'root cause' of tensions

Kim Jong Un looks slimmer than ever with his suit hanging off him as he continues to lose weight – a day after urging officials to tackle North Korea’s ‘grim’ food situation

  • Kim Jong Un blamed United States as the ‘root cause’ of instability on Monday
  • He said possessing an ‘invincible military’ is country’s most important objective 
  • The military exhibition featured an array of newly developed ICBM weapons

Kim Jong Un looked slimmer than ever this week with his suit hanging loosely on him as he spoke at a defence exhibition on Monday.

The North Korean leader, 37, appeared noticeably trim in new photos released by state media showing him walking on a red carpet lined with big missiles mounted on trucks.

He wore a dark suit with wide trouser legs and jacket, which seemed to hang off him, where months ago the fabric would have been pulled tight around his belly.

This comes a day after the dictator urged his officials to overcome the ‘grim situation’ facing North Korea in a speech to mark the ruling party’s founding on Sunday.

Kim Jong Un looked slimmer than ever this week with his suit hanging loosely on him as he spoke at a defence exhibition on Monday

He said his party was determined to achieve the economic goals set out during their congress in January, which includes solving the country’s food, clothing and housing problems.

The impoverished, nuclear-armed country has been hit by severe flooding in recent years which has left families without homes and is currently tackling a food crisis as the nation struggles to feed itself amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Photos emerged in June this year showing a dramatic change thought to represent a roughly 44-pound weight loss in six months, speculation that he has been suffering health problems as international analysts seek clues about his health, which is a closely guarded secret in the North. 

In a speech at the exhibition in Pyongyang, the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea blamed the United States for tensions on the peninsula saying it is the ‘root cause’ of instability, state media Korean Central News Agency reported.

The North Korean leader, 37, wore a dark suit with wide trouser legs and jacket, which seemed to hang off him, where months ago the fabric would have been pulled tight around his belly

The leader of nuclear-armed North Korea blamed the United States for tensions, calling it the ‘root cause’ of instability in a speech

Kim said his country’s most important objective is possessing an ‘invincible military capability’ that no one can dare challenge. 

He also used his speech at a rare exhibition of weapons systems to stress that his military might isn’t targeted at South Korea and that there shouldn’t be another war pitting Korean people against each other.

Pyongyang is under multiple international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under Kim.

In 2017 it tested missiles that can reach the whole of the continental US and carried out by far its most powerful nuclear explosion to date, and Pyongyang says it needs its arsenal to protect itself against a US invasion.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it has no hostile intent towards the North, but Kim told the ‘Self-Defence 2021’ exhibition, but he said there was ‘no basis’ in their actions.

‘The US has frequently signaled it’s not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to make us believe that they are not hostile,’ Kim said. ‘The US is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions.’ 

In a speech at the exhibition in Pyongyang, Kim said his country’s most important objective is possessing an ‘invincible military capability’ that no one can dare challenge

Kim’s address came after the North in recent weeks tested a long-range cruise missile and what it said was a hypersonic weapon.

The exhibition was the first of its kind since Kim took power in late 2011, according to Seoul officials, and included a multiple rocket launch system on display as well as jets flying in a formation.

It featured an array of newly developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) North Korea has already test-launched or displayed during military parades in recent years, experts say.

Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the weapons in the photos include what appears to be a new ICBM that North Korea disclosed during a military parade last year but hasn’t test-fired, Yang said. That missile mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle during the parade is considered to be the North’s biggest-yet ICBM.

The exhibition featured an array of newly developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) North Korea has already test-launched or displayed during military parades in recent years, experts say

Photos showed Kim walking on a red carpet lined with big missiles mounted on trucks, passing by a multiple rocket launch system and watching jets flying in a formation (pictured)

Other weapons on display were another ICBM that North Korea tested in 2017; ballistic missiles that can be fired from submarines or a train; solid-fueled, short-range missiles; and a developmental hypersonic missile that had its first test-flight last month, said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.

In 2018, Kim became the first North Korean leader ever to meet a sitting US president when he met Donald Trump at the headline-grabbing Singapore summit. 

But the talks process has been largely at a standstill since a second meeting in Hanoi the following year collapsed over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

The Biden administration has said it is willing to meet North Korean officials at any time or place, without preconditions, in its efforts to seek denuclearisation.

In 2018, Kim became the first North Korean leader ever to meet a sitting US president when he met Donald Trump (pictured together) at the headline-grabbing Singapore summit, but talks collapsed since a second meeting in Hanoi over sanctions relief

Washington and Seoul are security allies and Washington stations around 28,500 troops in the South to defend it against its neighbour, which invaded in 1950.

The South and the United States held joint military exercises in August. The wargames always infuriate Pyongyang, which decries them as preparations for invasion.

The South has been stepping up its own military capabilities, successfully testing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile in September and revealed a supersonic cruise missile.

Kim accused the South of hypocrisy, saying their ‘unrestricted and dangerous attempts to strengthen military power are destroying the military balance on the Korean peninsula and increasing military instability and danger’.

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analyzing the North Korean weapons displayed but didn’t elaborate. 

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