North Korea: last nuclear counter-attack simulated by a missile
Seoul, South Korea — North Korea on Monday described its latest ballistic missile launch as a mock nuclear attack on South Korea as leader Kim Jong Un called on his nuclear forces to boost war readiness amid expanding military drills of its rival with the United States.
The news from Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency came after the South Korean and Japanese military detected on Sunday that North Korea was firing a short-range ballistic missile into waters off its eastern coast. The launch came less than an hour before the United States flew long-range B-1B bombers for joint training with South Korean warplanes in the largest combined Allied training since years, which the North condemned as a rehearsal for a possible invasion. .
KCNA said the missile, which traveled about 800 kilometers (500 miles), was fitted with a fake nuclear warhead and the test reaffirmed the reliability of nuclear blast control devices and warhead detonators. tear. He said the launch was the latest step in a two-day exercise that also involved nuclear command and control exercises and the training of military units to move more quickly to a nuclear counterattack posture.
Kim, who said media photos showed witnessing the missile launch with his daughter, instructed his army to systematically conduct such drills simulating real-life wartime conditions to make units “more fully prepared in their posture.” active to make an immediate and overwhelming nuclear counter-attack at any time”.
Saying his enemies are becoming ‘more and more pronounced in their moves of aggression’, Kim stressed the need to strengthen his nuclear deterrent ‘exponentially’ and set out unspecified ‘strategic tasks’ to further develop his forces nuclear weapons and improve their war readiness, KCNA said. This indicated that the North could raise the bar in its weapons displays in the weeks or months to come.
Sunday’s short-range launch was the North’s fifth missile event this month and the third since the US and South Korean militaries began joint drills on March 13. The exercises, which are due to continue until Thursday, include computer simulations and field exercises which are the most important. of the genre since 2018.
The North’s test wave this year included a slew of short-range missiles fired from ground vehicles, cruise missiles launched from a submarine and two different flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from its main airport near the capital, Pyongyang, as it tries to demonstrate a dual capability to carry out nuclear attacks against South Korea and the American mainland.
The latest ICBM test last Thursday came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was due to travel to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which was partly aimed at restoring security ties between the allies. Americans often distant in the face of North Korean nuclear power. threats.
North Korea is already coming off a record year of testing activity, with more than 70 missiles fired in 2022, as Kim steps up a nuclear push aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and to negotiate the necessary sanctions. comes from a position of strength.
Last year, the North also stepped up its weapons displays when allies conducted joint exercises, including a series of missile and artillery fires it described as simulated nuclear attacks on targets south of the border. Korean and American. One of the missiles fired by the North in November flew towards the populated island of Ulleung in South Korea, triggering air raid sirens and forcing residents to evacuate. South Korea quickly responded by launching its own missiles into the same border area off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has long described U.S.-South Korean military drills as rehearsals for an invasion, though allies describe the drills as defensive. Many experts say North Korea is using its rivals’ drills as a pretext to aggressively expand its nuclear arsenal and overall military capability.
In New York, the UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency public meeting for Monday morning at the request of the United States, the United Kingdom, Albania, Ecuador, France and Malta in response to the launch of the ICBM by North Korea on March 16.
The UN Security Council held an informal meeting on Friday where the United States, its allies and human rights experts shone the spotlight on what they described as the dire situation of rights in North Korea. China and Russia denounced the meeting as a politicized move that could further escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea’s UN mission issued a statement on Sunday calling the meeting illegal over “our non-existent ‘human rights issue'”. He also said the United States held Friday’s meeting “while staging the aggressive joint military exercise that poses a serious threat to our national security.”
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.