Kim Jong-un unveils his daughter for the first time… during a missile test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of his latest ICBM accompanied by his daughter, which he unveiled to the world for the first time, in a message released by the state-run KCNA on Saturday. Amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, Kim also reiterated that he will resort to an atomic bomb in the event of a nuclear attack on his country, after overseeing the Hwasong-17 launch on Friday “with success,” according to KCNA.

The latest launch on Friday confirms “that once again North Korea’s nuclear forces have reached a new maximum reliable capability to contain any nuclear threat,” KCNA added, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name. The United Nations Security Council said on Saturday it would meet on Monday to discuss the situation.

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An unknown family…

Extremely rare, KCNA, the only source of information from Pyongyang, quoted Kim Jong Un’s family, stressing that the leader had gone to the launch accompanied by his “beloved wife and (his) daughter”. Kim appeared next to a young girl whose age is not specified, wearing a white puffer jacket and red shoes. The North Korean regime had never previously confirmed the existence of the leader’s family.

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South Korean intelligence services ensure that Kim married Ri Sol Ju in 2009, who gave birth to three children between 2010 and 2017, without specifying their gender. For Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea specialist at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, it could possibly be Kim’s second son, Ju Ae. In 2013, the former star of the NBA, the American basketball league, Dennis Rodman, visiting Pyongyang, had given a rare testimony of the existence of this child, whom he had known.

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“We saw with our own eyes the fourth generation of Kim”

His appearance revives speculation about a future dynastic transfer of power in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un succeeded his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung. According to Soo Kim, a former analyst with the US intelligence agency CIA, Friday’s launch testifies to “the permanence of the Kim regime’s weapons program, as it is an integral part of its very survival and the continuity of the regime’s rule. Its family”.

“It also answers some questions about succession,” the analyst, now at RAND Corporation, told AFP. “We’ve seen Kim’s fourth generation with our own eyes. And her daughter—as well as other potential siblings—will definitely be cared for by her father,” she said.

Strong tensions with Tokyo, Seoul and Washington

The United States, South Korea and Japan have stepped up joint military maneuvers in recent months since Kim Jong Un said in September that North Korea’s nuclear state status was “irreversible”. Seoul and Washington notably conducted the largest joint air exercises in their history in late October and early November.

On Saturday, the South Korean military announced that a US B-1B bomber had been redeployed to the Korean peninsula as part of new exercises between the two allies. But North Korea sees these displays of force as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory or an attempt to overthrow the regime. Kim even called them “warfare exercises of hysterical aggression” and promised to respond “resolutely to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation with all-out confrontation,” as quoted by KCNA.

“Monster Missile”

North Korea’s National News Agency said the missile reached a “maximum altitude of 6,040.9 km and traveled a distance of 999.2 km” before “landing accurately on the predefined area” in the North Korean Sea. East, or Sea of ​​Japan. The distance and elevation match the estimates provided by Seoul and Tokyo on Friday, and are only slightly lower than those of the ICBM launched by Pyongyang on March 24, which appears to be its strongest test yet.

North Korea previously claimed to have tested a Hwasong-17 – which is among Pyongyang’s most powerful weapons and which has been dubbed the “monstrous missile” by military analysts – on March 24 – but Seoul later questioned that claim. . This time, analysts said the trial appeared to be successful. “This launch is significant because it is (probably) the first successful test” of this missile, Joseph Dempsey, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told AFP.

Pyongyang unleashed an unprecedented barrage of missile attacks in early November, one of which landed near South Korean territorial waters. November 2 alone saw 23 North Korean missile launches, more than all of 2017, when the leader Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump threatened each other with a nuclear apocalypse. In September and October Pyongyang had already fired a copious salvo of shells, one of which had flown over Japan for the first time in five years.

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