North Korea's state media reported Tuesday that Kim Jong Un, posing with the country's largest missiles, said his nation's weapons development was necessary in the face of hostile policies from the United States and a military buildup in South Korea.
State news agency KCNA reported that Kim stated in a speech at the Defence Development Exhibition on Monday that North Korea was just beefing up its military for self-defense, not to initiate hostilities with the United States or other countries.
Images published in the governing party daily Rodong Sinmun showed Kim made the remarks while standing next to a range of weapons, including the country's intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Among the weapons showcase was the Hwasong-16, North Korea's heaviest ICBM, which was presented at a military parade in October last year but has not yet been tested.
In his words, Kim said they are not contemplating war with anyone, but rather "war prevention and literally increasing war deterrent for the defence of national sovereignty." Kim went on to say that North Korea's major adversary is "war itself."
The North and South have been engaged in an escalating arms race, with both sides developing and testing increasingly sophisticated short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons systems and equipment.
South Korea just conducted its first submarine-launched ballistic missile test, aims to construct massive new weapons arsenals, including aircraft carriers, and has purchased F-35 stealth fighters from the manufactured by the United States.
North Korea has continued to advance its missile program, and analysts believe it has initiated a substantial expansion of its primary nuclear reactor, which is used to create fuel for nuclear weapons. North Korea has a long history of nuclear weapons development.
The United States has stated that it is open to engage in diplomatic discussions with Pyongyang any time. According to Pyongyang, as long as Washington continues policies such as sanctions and military exercises in South Korea, the country will not participate.
In order to discuss North Korea, South Korea's national security advisor, Suh Hoon, will meet with his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan, in Washington on Tuesday.