Pyongyang (12/09 – 44.44) North Korea will launch a nuclear retaliation “automatically and immediately” if KIM JONG UN is incapacitated in an attack, according to a new law, codifying for the first time that the leader has delegated his strike authority under that severe condition.
The legislation, passed by Kim’s rubber-stamp parliament, also allows for preemptive nuclear strikes if North Korea judges that foreign weapons will soon streak toward its strategic targets or state leadership.
The measure comes as the dictator vowed to never part with the nuclear and missiles program it took his country decades to build, making them more and more dangerous by the year. North Korea will “never give up nuclear weapons and there is absolutely no denuclearization, and no negotiation and no bargaining chip to trade in the process,” Kim declared Friday, according to state-run media.
Kim, like his father before him, is reluctant to part with his nukes because they help keep the regime in place. But the thinking was Pyongyang would only use the weapons in the event of foreign nations first attacking North Korea, presumably some combination of the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Not anymore: The law says Kim’s bombs can fly in the event of any weapons of mass destruction attack and/or a non-nuclear strike on state leadership, command of nuclear forces or “important strategic objects” that is underway or “judged to be on the horizon.”
“This raises serious questions about the North’s ability to get accurate intelligence and what the threshold of evidence will be to make those judgment calls,” said JENNY TOWN, a senior fellow and director of the 38 North program at the Stimson Center.
Kim’s move is likely in response to comments made by South Korean President YOON SUK-YEOL, who previously suggested that a preemptive strike on the “kill chain” in North Korea is necessary as Pyongyang prepares an attack. Indeed, Kim has now let the world know the red button may still get pushed even if he’s dead.
“In case the command and control system over the state nuclear forces is placed in danger owing to an attack by hostile forces, a nuclear strike shall be launched automatically and immediately to destroy the hostile forces including the starting point of provocation and the command according to the operation plan decided in advance,” the new law reads.
“The new law underscores the dangers of the U.S. and South Korea focusing on leadership decapitation strategies,” said ANKIT PANDA, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It was quite predictable that the North Koreans would go down the path of threatening automatic retaliation if Kim is killed.”
Don’t expect President JOE BIDEN to shift course, though. “Our policy remains unchanged,” ADRIENNE WATSON, the National Security Council spokesperson, told NatSec Daily in an email. The U.S. will continue to coordinate with allies for “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
U.S. officials are prepared to meet their North Korean counterparts without preconditions, an offer repeatedly made to counterparts in Pyongyang. North Korea “continues to not respond,” Watson said.