Seoul, South Korea:
The leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, has blamed the US for tensions on the peninsula.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, the US is the “root cause” of the instability, he said in an opening speech at a defense exhibition.
Pyongyang is subject to a number of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which have progressed rapidly under Kim.
In 2017 it tested missiles that could reach the entire continental US and deliver its most powerful nuclear detonation ever, and Pyongyang says it needs its arsenal to defend itself from a US invasion .
The Biden administration has repeatedly said it has no hostile intentions toward the answer, but Kim said at the “Self-Defense 2021” exhibition: “I’m very curious whether there are people or countries who believe that.”
According to KCNA, “there is no basis in their actions to believe that it is not hostile.”
Kim’s address comes after North Korea in recent weeks tested a long-range cruise missile and what he said was a hypersonic weapon.
In 2018, Kim became the first North Korean leader to meet a current US president at the Singapore summit.
But the negotiation process has largely stalled as a second meeting in Hanoi next year failed due to sanctions relief and Pyongyang’s willingness to give in return.
The Biden administration has said it is ready to meet with North Korean officials to demand denuclearization without any preconditions.
Washington and Seoul are security allies and Washington has deployed some 28,500 troops to the south to defend against its neighbor, who invaded in 1950.
In August, the South and the United States conducted joint military exercises. The war games always enrage Pyongyang, which condemns them as preparations for invasion.
The South is ramping up its military capabilities, successfully testing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile in September and unveiling a supersonic cruise missile.
Kim accused the South of hypocrisy, saying that “their unrestricted and dangerous attempts to consolidate military power are destroying the military balance on the Korean peninsula and increasing military instability and danger”.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)