North Korea promised to “automatically and immediately” launch its nuclear weapons if the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un is killed or incapacitated in an attack, according to a new law.

The legislation, which swiftly passed the country’s rubber stamp parliament, also grants the country’s leaders authority to use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike if the dictatorship feels an attack by foreign powers is imminent.

“The nuclear posture of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is guaranteed by the reliable, effective and matured nuclear deterrence, defensive and responsible nuclear forces policy and flexible and purposeful strategy for using nuclear weapon capable of actively coping with any existing and developing nuclear threats in future,” the law reads.

North Korea spent decades pursuing nuclear weapons before successfully testing their first bomb in 2006. The country’s leaders view it as an essential form of deterrent from foreign intervention.

While the United States remains committed to denuclearizing the entire Korean peninsula, Kim has said the issue is a non-starter.

In this photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in North Korea on July 4, 2017.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tested multiple nuclear weapons in 2021.
Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File
This Aug. 29, 2017 file photo distributed on Aug. 30, 2017 by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the test launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile in Pyongyang, North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un refuses to halt the country’s nuclear tests in spite of pleas from the US.
Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File

“(We will) never give up nuclear weapons and there is absolutely no denuclearization, and no negotiation and no bargaining chip to trade in the process,” he told North Korean media Friday.

The new law potentially heightens the risk of conflict on the continent, experts say.

“This raises serious questions about the North’s ability to get accurate intelligence and what the threshold of evidence will be to make those judgment calls,” Jenny Town, a senior fellow and director of the 38 North program at the Stimson Center told Politico.

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