Cynthia Kim and Josh Smith
North Korea’s latest series of missile tests was designed to simulate the unleashing of tactical nuclear weapons on South Korea as a warning, state news agency KCNA says.
According to KCNA, the “warning” of the missile test was a follow-up to large-scale naval exercises by South Korean and US forces.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has over the past two weeks led exercises with a nuclear tactical operations force that includes ballistic missiles with simulated nuclear warheads, KCNA reported.
The move was to convey a strong message of war deterrence, it said.
Various tests targeted military command facilities, attacked major ports and simulated neutralizing airports in the south, the news agency added.
“Fully ready to strike and destroy targets at any time and from anywhere, KCNA has fully demonstrated the effectiveness and practical combat capabilities of its nuclear combat force,” KCNA said.
“The enemy keeps talking about dialogue and negotiations, but we have nothing to say and we don’t feel the need to.”
KCNA said North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party decided to conduct the exercise as an unavoidable response to the massive mobilization of US and South Korean naval forces, including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.
Ankit Panda of the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment said: “The statement they issued said the recent series of tests signaled the determination of the U.S. and South Korea as they conducted their own military operations. It clearly shows what happened,” he said. for international peace.
US and South Korea Joint maritime exercises involving the US aircraft carrier took place on Friday, a day after South Korea scrambled its fighter jets, apparently in response to North Korea’s airstrike drills.
The naval exercise involved the USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group. Prior to this, the navies of South Korea, Japan and the United States also held joint exercises.
US-led UN forces are still at war with North Korea, as the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
tactical nuclear weapon
North Korea has so far only had one missile with a tactical nuclear capability, but the statement revealed that many systems, old and new, would be assigned such a role, Ankit Panda said. Stated.
If North Korea resumes nuclear testing, it could include developing small tactical warheads intended for battlefield use and designed to fit short-range missiles like the one recently tested. analyst said.
South Korean and US officials said there were indications that North Korea could soon detonate a new nuclear weapon in an underground tunnel at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. closed in 2018.
Analysts said equipping short-range missiles with small warheads could represent a dangerous shift in the way North Korea deploys and uses its nuclear weapons.
New missiles, underwater silos
On October 4, North Korea launched a ballistic missile at an unprecedented distance. A new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was launched over Japan. First time since 2017.
Analysts have confirmed that photos released by state media show a never-before-seen IRBM.
“It is incredibly unusual for them to test a previously untested missile over Japan for the first time, which suggests a great deal of confidence in the engine,” Panda said. .
Among other missiles pictured are short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), including the KN-25 and KN-23 types, and those with a heavy payload of 2.5 tons, and the KN-09 300mm multiple rocket launcher. had. System (MLRS).
The photo in particular shows a test of a “navalized” KN-23 designed to be launched from a submarine.that missile Shown at last year’s sea testbut this time the test was conducted in a way that simulated launches from what the state media called “a silo under a reservoir.”
I saw North Korea this year launch missile test Launched from various locations and launch platforms, including trains, analysts said, it was an effort to simulate conflict and make it harder for enemies to detect and destroy the missiles.
The KN-23 was designed to perform a pull-up maneuver when approaching a target, intended to help evade missile defenses.
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/476409/n-korea-says-missile-tests-simulate-striking-south-with-nuclear-weapons North Korea says missile test simulates attack on south with nuclear weapons