North Korea leader Kim Jong-un warned the United States to prepare for retaliation against crippling economic sanctions as he announced Pyongyang developed a new secret weapon. Former CIA North Korea analyst Soo Kim told Express.co.uk Kim’s warning is a “credible threat” not only against the United States because of the confidence shown in his menacing message. Ms Kim said: “There’s definitely movement, the testing results definitely show that they have advanced pretty remarkably within a short span of time.
“Unless Kim was fully or confident enough that whatever he had as a bargaining chip or as an intimidating tactic – he has to have some kind of confidence that’s going to work and that’s going to be that net he can fall back on.
“I would say it’s a credible threat and it’s not just a threat to the United States.”
The North Korea expert warned Pyongyang could also use more “conventional” weapons to test the United States’ commitment to defending allies in East Asia.
She continued: “North Korea also has conventional capabilities it could use to, very conveniently and probably at a lower cost, get the United States’ attention by ambushing a South Korea island in the West Sea.
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“That is a very cost-effective way of getting the United States’ attention and also being able to test the US’ resolve to take South Korea’s side and seeing how it behaves in the midst of the frozen relationship and the deadlock in the nuclear negotiations.”
In a seven-hour speech at a Workers’ Party meeting at the start of the year, Kim Jong-un claimed the country developed a “new strategic weapon” ready to be unleashed to put an end to the one-year freeze on long-range weapon tests.
The announcement was seen as yet another obstacle to the negotiations US President Donald Trump embarked on with Kim in an attempt to broker a denuclearisation deal.
Harry Harris, the US Ambassador to South Korea, admitted to feeling “personally surprised” North Korea had not attacked the US despite warnings of a weaponised “Christmas gift” ready to target the United States.
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The two leaders further agreed to work on defusing the leftover tension between the two countries born out of the 1950-1953 Korean War which resulted in the creation of the two Koreas.
But talks broke down after President Trump rejected calls to remove sanctions on North Korea and praised Russia and China for economic penalties put on Pyongyang.
Pyongyang is estimated to have developed an arsenal of 20-30 nuclear weapons through its nuclear programme and is believed to have stored enough material for an additional 30-60 weapons of mass destruction.