This is no cruel April Fools joke.
One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, a nation where, according to the United Nations, two-thirds of its people don't even know where their next meal is coming from, but a nation that, nevertheless, spends an inordinate percentage of its Gross National Product on its military -- in particular in the development of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them -- announced on Sunday that it is determined to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal, "the nation's life," while simultaneously rebuilding its economy.
In Kim Jong-un's twisted logic, those two developments would take place "simultaneously" because "a growing nuclear deterrent could allow the North to limit military spending and put more resources into the agricultural sector and light industries to improve people's lives," according to the New York Times.
In the meantime, after B52 and B-2 strategic bombers have appeared over the Korean skies in recent days, F-22 stealth fighter aircraft have been deployed to South Korea in what Fox News calls the U.S.' "latest conspicuous display of firepower," and in what North Korea calls a preparation for invasion.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the F-22s are "among the most expensive and advanced weapons in the Air Force's arsenal" and that "[i]n a conflict with North Korea, F-22s would likely be the first aircraft used. The hard-to-detect fighters could be sent in to take out air defense missiles and radars in advance of bombers aimed at missile launch sites or other targets. They could also be used to escort nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers, should these be used in a strike."
But there is a glimmer of hope. Fox News points out that the appointment of Pak Pong Ju -- an "economic reformer" -- as North Korea's new premier is seen by analysts "as a clear signal that leader Kim Jong Un is moving to back up recent statements vowing a focus on strengthened economic development."
Let us hope that such a glimmer of hope, such a new "focus," is not overtaken, even destroyed, by non-April-Fools miscalculations by its leaders.
Lead Image: F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. fly in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. after air refueling over New York, Aug. 21, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman)