WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- North Korea has passed a new law authorizing the military to “automatically” use nuclear strikes to protect the country.
- The law states that leader Kim Jong Un will have all the power in deciding such attacks.
- The law outlines other ways that the nation may preemptively fire a nuclear weapon.
North Korea passed a law on Thursday authorizing its military to execute nuclear first strikes “automatically and immediately” to protect the country, according to state media, KCNA.
The “irreversible” new law gives absolute power to leader Kim Jong Un on all the decision-making concerning the use of nuclear weapons, the state outlet reported.
North Korea’s leadership reiterated that the “main mission” of its nuclear arsenal is to prevent a hostile attack. A nuclear strike would be used only as a last resort, the outlet added.
But the law has a list of situations in which the nation can legally fire a nuclear weapon.
According to KCNA, the law states that a nuclear weapon can be launched if the nation detects an impending “fatal military attack” against a North Korean strategic target, regardless if the initiating attack is not nuclear in nature.
Additionally, a nuclear weapon can also be used “automatically and immediately” by the military if the command system for the nation’s nuclear forces is “placed in danger.”
The law also states that a nuclear first strike may even be used in other scenarios, such as to gain the upper hand in a war.
In contrast, China adheres to a “no first-use” policy — meaning the country would consider a nuclear strike only if a similar attack was first made against it.
North Korea passed the new law after resuming the testing of long-range ballistic weapons in March after a five-year break, increasing tensions with its neighbors and the West. The North has missiles that have the capacity to reach the US east coast.
Earlier this month, South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, had offered massive amounts of economic aid, including food, health care, agriculture, and infrastructure to the Horth, if it would work toward denuclearization.
North Korea rejected the offer with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, saying the plan is “foolish” and “absurd.”
“No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she wrote.