North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Han Tae Song claimed on Tuesday that the United States is using the Winter Olympics as an excuse for provocative military maneuvers, and boasted North Korea has a “powerful and reliable” nuclear deterrent ready to thwart foreign invaders.
Han said this at a U.N. disarmament forum in Geneva, which is not really an appropriate venue for bragging about how far advanced your country’s illegal nuclear weapons program has become—unless, of course, your goal is to shake the international community’s faith that your nuclear program can be stopped.
The North Koreans are clearly studying what Western politicians and intelligence officials say about them because Han hit all of the major bullet points. Intelligence analysts, for example, often speak of a “reliable” North Korean nuclear arsenal as a far greater threat than a few missiles and warheads created largely for show.
The North Korean ambassador stressed this point repeatedly, claiming his country was able to “perfect a national nuclear force” and possesses a “powerful and reliable war deterrent, which no force and nothing can reverse.”
“I am proudly saying that DPRK’s nuclear force is capable of frustrating and countering any nuclear threats from the U.S. and it constitutes a powerful deterrent that prevents the U.S. from starting an adventurous war,” he declared.
Han also accused the U.S. of making a “precarious military maneuver” by moving forces into the Korean Peninsula before the Winter Olympics begin. This plays into North Korea’s perpetual demands for the United States to move its forces out of Korea and cease conducting joint military drills with South Korea, which the North denounces as dress rehearsals for an invasion.
Han’s comments also exploited South Korea’s eagerness to use the Winter Olympics as a diplomatic opening with the North, blaming the United States for jeopardizing the possibility of more productive talks. He could not have been more obviously seeking to use the Olympics as a wedge between South Korea and its allies.
“This is a dangerous act of throwing a wet blanket over the current positive atmosphere of inter-Korean relations, which could drive the situation again into an extreme phase of confrontation,” Han said of U.S. military deployments.
“The U.S.’s on-going deployment of its military assets is a cunning strategy aimed at provoking the North to respond in a tough way which will disrupt the on-going inter-Korean dialogue. It is not unreasonable to say that such military activities of the U.S. are aimed at a war with the North,” a North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said on Wednesday, using similar language similar to the U.N. ambassador’s.
NK News quotes research professor Hwang Jae-joon of Kyungnam University postulating that North Korea is using the Winter Olympics as “bait” to lure South Korea into breaking with the U.S. on conducting military drills and imposing sanctions.