North Korea’s Kim Orders Boosting Missile Production to Prepare for War

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a key military factory in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 14, 2023.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for production of missiles and artillery shells to ramp up so the country can secure “overwhelming military power” and be ready for war, state media KCNA said on Monday.

Kim gave the order as he visited key munitions factories that produce tactical missiles, missile launch platforms, armored vehicles and artillery shells on Friday and Saturday.

His field inspection was the latest in a string of visits to arms factories, where he ordered mass production of weapons, and came days before South Korea and the U.S. are to begin annual military drills, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for war.

Kimnoted an “important goal to dramatically increase” missile production capacityto meet the needs of the expanded and strengthened frontline military units, KCNA said.

“The qualitative levels of war preparations depend on the development of the munitions industry, and the factory has a tremendous responsibility in accelerating our military’s war preparations,” he was quoted as saying.

At other plants, Kim inspected and drove a new utility combat armored vehicle, and praised recent progress in modernizing production lines for large-caliber multiple rocket launcher rounds, KCNA said.

There was a “very urgent need” to “exponentially increase” the production of such rockets to strengthen frontline artillery units, he said.

“Our army must thoroughly secure overwhelming military power and solid readiness to handle any war at any time, so that the enemy does not dare to use force, and would be annihilated if it does,” Kim said.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries are expected to hold their Ulchi Freedom Guardian summer exercises this month, and North Korea has denounced them as a rehearsal for nuclear war.

The United States has accused North Korea of providing weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine, including artillery shells, shoulder-fired rockets and missiles.

North Korea and Russia have denied any arms transactions.

KCNA separately said on Monday that Kim visited “typhoon-hit areas” after tropical storm Khanun swept over the Korean peninsula last week, flooding farmlands.