Sep 9, 2022 - World

North Korea adopts more aggressive nuclear position

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a television in Seoul, South Korea, in June 2022.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

North Korea is toughening its nuclear policy with a new law saying the country will preemptively strike the United States or South Korea if they attempt to remove Kim Jong-un from power, state media reported Friday, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The law, passed by North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament on Thursday, declares the country to be a nuclear weapons state and rules out any future talks of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

  • The new law comes after U.S. and South Korean officials warned earlier this year that North Korea appears to be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear weapons test and its first since 2017.

What they're saying: "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," Kim said during a speech to North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The new law replaces a 2013 law which defined Pyongyang's nuclear status and when it would use nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.

  • It stipulates that North Korea could use nuclear weapons if it believes an attack involving weapons of mass destruction — or a conventional attack against its leadership or nuclear systems — is incoming, the Times reports.
  • The law also says it would use nuclear weapons to prevent "the expansion and protraction of a war," per the Times.

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