New headlines show up on a daily basis that make us wonder whether we’re inching closer to a possible nuclear war with either Russia or China. And it’s not hyperbolic to suggest such a thing. Tensions between both of those nations are the west are currently higher than they have been since the cold war. But it appears that someone on the Korean Peninsula is feeling left out and wants to get in on the action. Diminutive North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un gave another televised speech this week in which he threatened a nuclear attack on Soth Korea and the United States. What he was upset about this time wasn’t entirely clear, though he did accuse America of “demonizing” his country. He also insinuated that joint exercises routinely held by American and South Korean military units were actually covert rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea. He claimed that North Korea’s “nuclear deterrent” is ready and waiting to destroy the infidels. (Associated Press)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned he’s ready to use his nuclear weapons in potential military conflicts with the United States and South Korea, state media said Thursday, as he unleashed fiery rhetoric against rivals he says are pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.

Kim’s speech to war veterans on the 69th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War were apparently meant to boost internal unity in the impoverished country suffering pandemic-related economic difficulties. North Korea will likely intensify its threats against the United States and South Korea as the allies prepare to expand summertime exercises the North views as an invasion rehearsal, some observers say.

“Our armed forces are completely prepared to respond to any crisis, and our country’s nuclear war deterrent is also ready to mobilize its absolute power dutifully, exactly and swiftly in accordance with its mission,” Kim said in Wednesday’s speech, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Nobody seriously believes that Kim would launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike on anyone else. If he did, his entire country would be destroyed in a matter of days, if not hours. But he’s clearly not helping matters any, particularly at a time when China appears to be on the verge of a military incursion into Taiwan. We’ve got enough on our plates at the moment without this jackwagon spouting threats of nuclear attacks. And besides, who in their right mind would want to invade North Korea? It’s not as if they have anything worth taking.

Of course, most of this rhetoric is clearly designed for internal consumption by his own people. Kim has to keep his citizens in constant fear of an imminent invasion by the west so they won’t notice their own horrible living conditions and the huge numbers of people that Kim locks up in his labor camps. He needs a perceived enemy to justify all of the resources that go into his nuclear arsenal instead of feeding his starving nation.

How stable Kim actually is these days is also a concern. Rumors have been making the rounds for years suggesting that Kim’s health has been in decline, possibly affecting his mental stability. At one point there were suggestions that he had already died and a body double was taking his place at public appearances while others ran the country from the shadows. Most analysts don’t believe that’s the case, but he’s definitely dropped a significant amount of weight in recent years. Whether that’s because of an illness or just an effort to get into better shape remains unknown.

The sad reality is that Kim’s family is the only thing holding the North Korean regime together. Loyalty to (and fear of) his dynasty prevents the nation from breaking back down into a checkerboard of feuding warlords as it was before his grandfather took power. It’s also unclear who would inherit the leadership if Kim were to pass away now. Many have speculated that he’s setting his sister up for the role, but not all of the warlords would be willing to accept a woman in the most powerful position in the nation.

Hopefully, this week’s antics are just more of the typical bluster we’ve come to expect from Kim Jong-un. But as long as he’s hanging onto his nukes, we’ll have to keep an eye on him.

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