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North Korea tests new system to improve the effectiveness of tactical nuclear weapons

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen the test-firing of a new weapons system that will increase the effectiveness of his tactical nuclear weapons, state media said on Sunday, capping celebrations surrounding the birthday of the founder of the country.

On the heels of Kim Il-sung’s 110th birthday, North Korea unveils a new advance in its weapons program with this test firing of a new system. The launch is the latest in an unprecedented series of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year, including the firing of a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month.

The new tactical guided weapon “is of great importance in radically improving the firepower of long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency of the exploitation of tactical nuclear weapons”, the official news agency said. KCNA. She added that the test was successful, without specifying the exact date or the place where this test firing was carried out.

The staff of the South Korean armed forces said it had detected two projectiles, launched late Saturday. They flew over a distance of 110 kilometers at an altitude of 25 kilometers, with a speed of approximately Mach 4. The United States indicated that it was “aware” of the North Korean statement referring to this test and that they were monitoring the situation, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Photos published by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a smiling Kim surrounded by uniformed officials and cheering as he watched what was described as the weapon’s test firing. The leader gave the military research team “important instructions on continuing to build defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces,” the KCNA news agency added.

This undated photo, transmitted on April 17, 2022 by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, shows the test firing of a new weapon system intended to increase the effectiveness of the country’s tactical nuclear weapons. PA

Short-range ballistic missile

Analysts say the weapon is a new, but no less important, short-range ballistic missile. “This test of a tactical nuclear delivery device comes amid mounting evidence of major reconstruction work at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” said Carnegie senior researcher Ankit Panda. Endowment for International Peace. Satellite imagery has shown signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri site, which North Korea says was demolished in 2018 ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit.

On Friday, North Korea celebrated the 110th birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung (1912-1994), with a huge public procession, bonfires artifice and synchronized dances. There was, however, no military parade, as many observers had predicted. South Korean and American analysts and officials had also believed that a nuclear test was possible on this important anniversary.

The celebrations came three weeks after Pyongyang’s biggest ever intercontinental ballistic missile test, a first since 2017. At a key party congress in January 2021, Kim Jong-un presented a five-year plan for the development of the defence, calling for the development of superior nuclear technology and the manufacture of smaller and lighter nuclear weapons for “more tactical uses”. These remarks signal a return to nuclear testing. Kim Jong-un’s presence at the launch of a short-range missile, a first in more than two years, suggests “special significance”, according to Panda.

Towards a seventh try?

Last month’s test marked the end of a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear testing, which had been suspended after Kim met with then-US President Donald Trump. Officials and analysts say North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks. Satellite images have shown signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

North Korea has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006 and touted the success of its latest and most powerful in 2017, a hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons. With a new nuclear test, experts believe Pyongyang will seek to miniaturize the nuclear warheads to be mounted on its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

South Korean officials have said Pyongyang could still hold a military parade or carry out a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. This anniversary coincides with the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which are due to begin on Monday. South Korea and the United States regularly hold military exercises, but Pyongyang has regularly protested against these exercises by denouncing preparations for a war.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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