North Korea has recently officially approved such a law that nuclear strikes will be carried out as a pre-emptive measure in self-defense. The country’s state news agency KCNA reported the information on Friday.

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has said his nuclear status is ‘irrevocable’ and is an obstacle to denuclearization talks on nuclear weapons legislation.

North Korea appears to be preparing to resume nuclear tests for the first time since 2017, observers said. In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump and other world leaders failed to convince Kim to refrain from weapons development after a historic meeting.

North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly passed the new law on Thursday to replace a 2013 law, KCNA reported. The 2013 law outlined the country’s nuclear status for the first time.

Speaking at a rally, Kim said the most important thing about enacting the nuclear weapons policy law was to draw an irreversible framework so that there would be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons. Even if the country is banned for 100 years, I will not surrender my arms.

An assembly deputy said the law would serve as a strong legal guarantee to consolidate North Korea’s status as a nuclear-weapon state and ensure the country’s nuclear policy has a “transparent, consistent and standard character”.

The original 2013 law said North Korea would be able to use nuclear weapons to repel an attack from an enemy nuclear-armed state and to launch a retaliatory counterattack.

But the new law goes beyond that. The new law states that North Korea will launch a nuclear strike before an enemy country can launch an attack if an imminent attack against North Korea’s ‘strategic targets’ with weapons of mass destruction is being prepared and detected.

Chad O’Carroll, founder of the North Korea-tracking website NK News, said on Twitter: ‘In short, some really ambiguous situations have developed, where North Korea is now saying it could use its nuclear weapons. I imagine the purpose of this is to give US and South Korean military planners pause to think about a much broader range of actions than before.’

Like the previous law, the new version also requires nuclear-weapon states to pledge not to threaten non-nuclear-weapon states. But the condition is that they cannot join forces with any nuclear-armed country to attack North Korea.

Under the law, Kim has ‘all decision-making powers’ over nuclear weapons. But if command and control systems are threatened, nuclear weapons can be ‘automatically’ launched.

If Kim delegates authority to lower commanders during a crisis, it could increase the likelihood of catastrophic miscalculations, analysts said.

(September 9)