North Korea has fired an experiment in a new type of tactical-guided weapon designed to increase its nuclear combat capability, the country’s media reported today (Sunday), a day before its main rivals, the United States and South Korea, begin annual military exercises the North sees as a return invasion. .
The experiment, the 13th round of weapons launches by Pyongyang this year, came amid fears that North Korea may soon carry out a larger provocation like a nuclear test in an effort to expand the country’s weapons arsenal and increase pressure on Washington and Seoul amid stuck diplomacy.
The official Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un watched what she called the successful launch of the weapon. It posted a picture where Kim Koren was seen clapping with army officers.
The KCNA said the weapons tested had “significant significance in drastically improving the firepower of long-range artillery units, improving the efficiency of operating the tactical nuclei (of North Korea) and diversifying their firepower missions.”
The KCNA did not elaborate, but the use of the words “tactical nuclei” indicated that the weapon was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on the battlefield that could hit strategic targets in South Korea, including U.S. military installations. The KCNA delegation did not say when and where the launch took place.
“North Korea is trying to deploy not only long-range nuclear missiles aimed at American cities but also tactical nuclear weapons to threaten Seoul and US bases in Asia,” said Life-Eric Isli, a professor at Eva University in Seoul. . “As Russia raises fears that it may use a tactical nucleus, North Korea may want such weapons for political coercion, battlefield escalation and limiting the readiness of other countries to intervene in the conflict.”
Some observers have said the weapons shown in North Korean photos suggest it may be a smaller, lighter version of its high-maneuverable KN-23 missile, which aims to defeat missile defense systems. Others said it could be a new missile that combines the technical characteristics of the KN-23 and another short-range ballistic missile called the KN-24.
South Korea’s combined chiefs of staff said in a statement on Sunday that it had identified two bullet launches from the north’s eastern coastal town of Hamung early Saturday night.
The missiles were said to have flown about 110 km (68 miles) at a 25 km (16 mile) apogee and at a maximum speed of Mach 4. The statement said that the South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were analyzing more details about the launches. The South Korean presidency has announced that officials met twice over the weekend to discuss North Korea’s military activity.
The South Korean military said later on Sunday that its spring drills with the United States would begin on Monday in nine days. United States.
The exercises could further intensify hostility in the Korean Peninsula as North Korea has responded in the past with its own weapons trials and fiery rhetoric.
North Korea began this year with a host of weapons tests, including the first flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. homeland since 2017. Sources in South Korea and the U.S. said Pyongyang could soon launch more provocations like another ICBM test, a. Launching a rocket to put a spy satellite into orbit or even detonating a nuclear test that will be the seventh of its kind. The South Korean military has said it has identified signs that North Korea is rebuilding tunnels in the field of nuclear tests that it partially dismantled weeks before it entered into now dormant nuclear talks with the United States in 2018.
Sunday’s KCNA mission quoted Kim as presenting undefined missions for building North Korea’s nuclear fighting forces and its defense capability, after praising what he called continuous progress in its efforts to strengthen the country’s war deterrent. The North’s latest experimental activity has included the sophisticated weapon systems that Sack has vowed to introduce to deal with what he calls American hostility.
“North Korea has a local mandate to produce and refine weapons that Kim Jong Un ordered last year, regardless of what the United States does or does not do. The test also tells its people that their country is strong despite their apparent economic difficulties, “said Dwayne Kim, a senior analyst at the Washington Center for New American Security.” One of the reasons for the political timing could be a protest over the expected U.S.-South Korean military exercises. “
On Friday, Kim attended a huge civic parade in Pyongyang that marked the 110th birthday of his country’s founding grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The country seems to have gone through its most important national holiday without a military parade that is highly anticipated for it to showcase its new weapons systems.
Kim may still hold a military parade on the anniversary of the establishment of the North Korean army on April 25. But if this anniversary passes again without a military parade, some experts say it may mean that Kim has no new powerful missiles to present and that his next provocative move will probably be a nuclear test.
Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.