SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called South Korea “our principal enemy” and threatened to annihilate it if provoked, as he escalates his inflammatory rhetoric in an election year in South Korea and the U.S.
The White House meanwhile said it has evidence that Russia had fired at Ukraine additional ballistic missiles provided by North Korea. The U.S., South Korea and their partners issued a statement Wednesday condemning both North Korea and Russia over the missile transfer.
Experts say Kim will likely further raise animosities by test-firing more missiles to try to raise stakes in the standoff with his rivals and influence the results of South Korea's parliamentary elections in April and the U.S. presidential election in November.
During tours of munitions factories this week, Kim said it's time to define South Korea “as a state most hostile” toward North Korea because of its long-running attempts to topple the North's socialist system. He said North Korea must bolster its nuclear war deterrent, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday.
If South Korea dares to use its military force against North Korea, Kim said, “We will have no hesitation in annihilating (South Korea) by mobilizing all means and forces in our hands,” according to KCNA.
He has made similar threats recently, and analysts say Kim likely hopes that South Korea's liberal opposition, which…