According to North Korea’s state-run media on Monday, recent missile launches included “tactical nuclear” rehearsals meant to mimic striking the South.
According to the report, the launches were ordered by Kim Jong Un in retaliation for joint military drills in the area conducted by the United States.
At a crucial party meeting in January 2021, Kim proclaimed obtaining tactical nuclear weapons—smaller, lighter warheads suited for combat use—a primary goal.
Kim also promised this year to build North Korea’s nuclear capabilities as quickly as feasible. After proclaiming North Korea a “irreversible” nuclear state and changing the country’s nuclear laws to permit preemptive attacks, Kim essentially put an end to discussions over the country’s nuclear weapons.
Since then, Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington have increased joint military drills, twice sending a U.S. aircraft carrier with nuclear capability to the region, angering Pyongyang, which views such exercises as practice for an invasion.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, in reaction, North Korea “decided to arrange military exercises under the simulation of a real war” that played out attacking South Korea’s ports, airports, and military command buildings.
The report said that from September 25 to October 9 military maneuvers were held by North Korean army units engaged in “the operation of tactical nukes to verify and analyze the war deterrent and nuclear retaliation capacity.”
KCNA said that Kim “led the military exercises on the spot,” and photographs issued by state media showed him enthusiastically directing uniformed troops while wearing a white shirt.
The notion of reopening discussions was rejected by Kim, who was also seen watching missiles launch into the sky behind columns of fire, who said North Korea “felt no obligation to do so,” according to KCNA.
The study also said that a “new-type ground-to-ground intermediate-range ballistic missile” was used in North Korea’s missile launch on October 4 that flew over Japan and led to infrequent evacuation alerts.
It was intended to “send more forceful and unambiguous warning to the adversaries” during that test, for which official media photos depicted Kim reviewing the missile flight data.
The spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry confirmed the KCNA reporting and underlined North Korea’s statement of the joint exercises in the area that are being led by the United States.
“The relevant reports were taken down. Additionally, we took notice of the recent (U.S.-Japan-South Korea) maneuvers in the waters next to the DPRK “Using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, Mao Ning said during a routine briefing on Monday.
The assertion made by North Korea that their missile launches are “a retaliation” to U.S.-
According to security expert Ankit Panda, based in the United States, South Korea’s exercises are a part of the “known spiral dynamic” on the Korean peninsula.
He said: “I fear that this is the beginning of a hazardous dynamic on the Korean Peninsula, where we have two governments engaged in a savage competition and both has enormous incentives to fire first in a real crisis.” We also lack effective crisis management tools, such as hotlines or negotiated restraint.
It is notable that North Korea is portraying the latest launches as testing of the launchers rather than the missiles themselves, according to observers.
According to Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ tweet, “it implies these systems are deployed.”
Along with the variety of “tactical nuclear” exercises, North Korea claimed to have also conducted “a large-scale joint air-attack exercise,” which was also under Kim’s supervision.
However, critics regarded this as local propaganda, and Seoul said last week that it had only seen 12 North Korean airplanes flying in formation. KCNA claimed that this included “more than 150 fighter planes.”
Since official media no longer frequently comments on launches, the flurry of KCNA announcements regarding Pyongyang’s latest tests suggests Pyongyang is worried about the recent U.S.-led joint exercises, observers say.
According to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Seoul’s Ewha University, “it is making public the nuclear threat underlying its recent missile tests in order to enhance its self-proclaimed deterrence.” The KCNA claim may possibly be a sign of an impending nuclear test of the type of tactical bomb Kim would equip his field troops with.
North Korea has finished its preparations for a new nuclear test, which would be the nation’s seventh and first since 2017. Officials in Washington and Seoul have been issuing warnings about this for months.
According to Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University, “the worries of a nuclear war in Ukraine are no longer someone else’s problem.” “We need to consider the increasing risk of a nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula more seriously.”
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