North Korea says missile test simulated attacking South with tactical nukes | North Korea

North Korea’s recent flurry of missile tests demonstrated its ability to carry out strikes with tactical nuclear weapons, its leader, Kim Jong-un, has said, adding that his forces were “fully ready to hit and destroy targets at any time from any location.” .

Kim, who last month said the North’s transformation into a nuclear power was “irreversible”, said the drills were “an obvious warning and clear demonstration” to the country’s enemies.

The regime’s short-range tactical nuclear missiles would not be able to reach its nemesis – the United States – but could theoretically be used against the South and Japan.

In a report carried on Monday, state news agency KCNA said Kim had ordered the test launches in response to major naval exercises by South Korean and US forces.

Tokyo and Washington recently resumed exercises, including the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to waters off South Korea’s east coast – a move that enraged Pyongyang, which sees the drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan will participate in a joint anti-submarine exercise in waters off South Korea on September 30, 2022.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan participated in a joint anti-submarine exercise in waters off South Korea on September 30, 2022. Photo: AP

In response, North Korea “decided to organize military exercises under the simulation of an actual war,” KCNA reported.

Army units involved in “tactical nuclear weapons operation staged military drills from September 25 to October 9 to check and assess the country’s war deterrence and nuclear counter-attack capability,” the report said, confirming that Kim had personally led the drills. .

Official photographs showed Kim at all missile launches and exercises, giving orders and posing with smiling soldiers.

“They are definitely pursuing a tactical nuclear weapon,” said US security analyst Ankit Panda. “I suspect they will gradually nuclearize many of their new short-range missiles, including the cruise missiles.”

The fact that North Korea has described all seven of its recent missile launches as being linked to “tactical nuclear operational units”, he added, as the inventory includes everything from short-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles to a new short-range missile. range missile designed to be launched from a submarine.

Kim Jong-un oversees a military strike exercise by long-range artillery units.
Kim Jong-un oversees a military exercise in a photo provided by North Korean media. Photo: KCNA/EPA

Kim, who has spearheaded dramatic improvements in missile and nuclear development despite years of UN sanctions, has long wanted to acquire tactical nuclear weapons – smaller, lighter weapons designed for use on the battlefield – and made it a top priority on a important party congress in January. 2021.

Last month, North Korea revised its nuclear laws to enable it to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes, including in response to conventional strikes.

Kim led drills by the country’s tactical nuclear operation units over the past two weeks involving ballistic missiles with mock nuclear warheads, KCNA said, adding they were intended to deliver a strong deterrent message.

“The effectiveness and practical combat capability of our nuclear combat force was fully demonstrated as it is completely ready to hit and destroy targets at any time from any location,” KCNA was quoted as saying. “Although the enemy continues to talk about dialogue and negotiations, we have nothing to talk about, nor do we feel the need to.”

The various tests simulated the targeting of military command facilities, attacks on major ports and neutralization of airfields in the south.

Tactical nuclear weapons

South Korean and US officials say there are signs North Korea may soon detonate a new nuclear device in underground tunnels at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which was officially shut down in 2018.

Analysts say placing small warheads on short-range missiles could represent a dangerous change in the way North Korea uses and plans to use nuclear weapons.

On October 4, the North test-fired a ballistic missile further than ever before, flying what it said was a new intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time since 2017.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said North Korea had “multiple motives” for publicizing the launches.

“Kim Jong-un’s public appearance after a month-long absence makes for a patriotic headline to mark (Monday’s) founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party,” Easley said.

“Pyongyang has been concerned about military exercises by the US, South Korea and Japan, so to bolster its self-proclaimed deterrent, it expresses the nuclear threat behind its recent missile launches,” he added.

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