North Korea’s decades-long history of preoccupation with nukes reached an apex in September with the country’s largest test yet. This resulted in a condemnation from President Obama, and the leaking of South Korea’s plan to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Well, if you thought these two reactions would somehow deter North Korea from further nuclear testing, you’re probably too optimistic for this world. Kim Jong-un and his authoritarian regime are forging ahead on warp speed.
Thae Yong-ho, the highest ranking North Korean diplomat to ever defect to South Korea (he did so in 2016), reveals that North Korea is “racing ahead” with nuke development and operating under the impression that its plans won’t be deterred by either the U.S. or South Korea. According to CNN, the dictator is apparently encouraged by the “political uncertainty” of its two big rivals and taking this as a cue to keep on trucking:
Political uncertainty in the United States and in South Korea could give North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “an apt time” to develop nuclear weapons “at all costs by the end of 2017,” a high-profile North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea said Tuesday.
“Due to domestic political procedures, North Korea calculates that South Korea and the US will not be able to take physical or military actions to deter North Korea’s nuclear development,” Thae Yong-ho, formerly No. 2 at the North Korean Embassy in London, said in a news briefing, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Thae said Kim has no plans to give up the country’s nukes even if he is offered huge sums of money, saying the leader is “racing ahead with nuclear development after setting up a plan to develop it (nuclear weapons) at all costs by the end of 2017.”
This news arrives alongside Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s near-simultaneous hints that both of their respective countries will ramp up nuclear capabilities, plus Trump’s subsequent call for “an arms race.” Meanwhile, China’s waving its own nuclear prowess in front of Trump, and the world may be slip-sliding to hell in a gold-planted hand basket. In other words, 2017 may be even more chaotic than 2016, if that’s even possible.