North Korea’s Kim says would only use nukes if sovereignty is threatened

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says his country is a responsible nuclear weapons state, pledging to only use its nuclear arsenal if the country’s sovereignty is threatened by a nuclear power.

Kim, speaking at the first ruling party congress in 36 years, said his government will seek to develop its foreign relations “in conformity” with its nuclear status and to “wage a vigorous struggle” to end the threat of nuclear war.

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our Republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” Kim said, as quoted by state-run media. “It will faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for the global denuclearization.”

Kim added: “Our Party and the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) government will wage a vigorous struggle to radically put an end to the danger of nuclear war, imposed by the U.S., with powerful nuclear deterrence and defend the regional and global peace.”

Kim’s remarks come just four months after the country carried out its fourth nuclear test, and just weeks after Kim ordered his military forces to ensure that its nuclear weapons are ready for use at a moment’s notice, citing the “very precarious” situation on the Korean peninsula.

The North’s nuclear test in January, as well as its subsequent long-range missile launch, prompted international condemnation and a new round of sanctions from the United Nations, but foreign observers believe North Korea may be planning to carry out a fifth nuclear test in the near future.

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