Last week, president-elect Donald Trump shocked the political world when he called for a “nuclear arms race” during an interview with “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski. Now, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is planning a “prime time” nuclear weapons push in 2017 to take advantage of leadership transitions in the United States, a high-ranking defector said, AFP reported Thursday
In his first interview since fleeing his post as North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong-Ho said Kim Jong-Un had issued a directive to “complete” nuclear development by the end of next year, according to the report published by Business Insider.
Thae told local reporters: “With South Korea holding presidential elections and the US undergoing an administration transition, the North sees 2017 as the prime time for nuclear development.”
North Korea carried out two nuclear tests in 2016 and numerous missile launches in pursuit of its ultimate goal of a deterrent capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.
The North Korean leader’s main aim is to “open a new dialogue with the US from the position of a confirmed nuclear power,” he said.
Washington has repeatedly vowed that it would never accept the North as a nuclear state. But that may change with the incoming Trump administration.
Thae, who escaped to the South with his wife and two sons, is the highest-ranking diplomat ever to defect from North Korea.
The North’s state media denounced him as “human scum”, and accused him of embezzling state funds, raping a minor and spying for South Korea in exchange for money.