North Korea has expressed its anger over the arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in South Korea, calling it a provocation and threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend itself. Despite its growing nuclear arsenal, North Korea is still outmatched by U.S. and South Korean forces, making it unlikely that they would initiate a nuclear attack. However, experts believe that North Korea will continue to upgrade its weapons while avoiding diplomacy for the time being.
The USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group arrived at South Korea’s southeastern port of Busan, following a naval exercise in international waters with the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. This deployment is part of an agreement to increase the temporary presence of U.S. military assets in response to North Korea’s nuclear program.
The official Korean Central News Agency of North Korea criticized the arrival of the aircraft carrier as a “military provocation” and claimed that it proved the U.S.’ plan to attack North Korea was being realized. They threatened to respond with their own nuclear weapons, citing their doctrine that allows for preemptive use of nuclear weapons in case of an attack or when such an attack is imminent. North Korea also mentioned that it will target the U.S. “extended deterrence” means and what it sees as the bases of evil in the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.
North Korea argues that it has developed nuclear weapons as a defensive measure against what it perceives as U.S. and South Korean plans to invade. It often reacts strongly to the deployment of U.S. strategic assets and joint training exercises with South Korea, using them as leverage to gain concessions from foreign powers.
Since last year, North Korea has conducted over 100 missile tests, claiming they are in response to the expanded U.S.-South Korean military drills. However, Washington and Seoul maintain that their drills are solely defensive in nature.
North Korea passed a law last year that allows it to use nuclear weapons in various situations, including when its leadership is under imminent attack or when it needs to prevent a catastrophic crisis. The U.S. and South Korean governments have repeatedly warned that any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would result in the end of the North’s government.