North Korea on Monday described its latest ballistic missile launch as a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea as leader Kim Jong Un urged his nuclear forces to sharpen their combat readiness in the face of expanded military exercises with his rival the United States.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday that North Korea had fired a short-range ballistic missile into waters off its east coast after South Korean and Japanese militaries detected it. The launch came less than an hour before the United States flew long-range B-1B bombers for joint training with South Korean warplanes as part of the allies’ biggest joint exercise in years, which the North has denounced as a drill for a possible attack. .
KCNA said the missile, which flew about 800 kilometers (500 miles), was tipped with a mock nuclear warhead and the test reaffirmed the reliability of the weapon’s nuclear explosion control device and warhead detonators. It said the launch was the final step in a two-day drill that included nuclear command and control exercises and training for military units to shift to a more rapid nuclear counterattack posture.
Kim, who state media photos showed took part in the missile launch with his daughter, ordered his military to regularly conduct such drills simulating real-life combat situations so that units could “more accurately position themselves in their active posture to launch an immediate and unstoppable nuclear counterattack at any time.” Ready.”
Saying that his enemies are “becoming more and more clear in their moves for aggression,” Kim called for the need to “theoretically” strengthen his nuclear deterrent and laid out unspecified “strategic tasks” to further develop his nuclear forces and improve their combat readiness. , KCNA said it indicated the North could advance its weapons display in the coming weeks or months.
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 exercises on March 13. Their kind since 2018.
The North’s tests this year include several short-range land-launched missiles, a submarine-launched cruise missile and two separate flight tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile launched from its main airport near the capital, Pyongyang, as it tries. South Korea and the US demonstrate dual capabilities to launch nuclear strikes on the mainland.
recent ICBM exam last Thursday South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol arrived hours before traveling to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, aimed in part at rebuilding security ties between the often estranged US ally in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat.
North Korea is already coming off a record year in test activity, launching more than 70 missiles in 2022, as Kim accelerates a nuclear push aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and negotiate badly needed sanctions. Liberation from positions of power.
The North also dialed back its weapons display last year as the allies conducted joint drills, including several missile and artillery launches described as simulated nuclear strikes on South Korean and US targets. One of the missiles the North fired in November flew toward South Korea’s populated Uleung Island, triggering air raid sirens and forcing residents to evacuate. South Korea quickly responded by firing its own missiles at the same border area on the east coast of the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has long portrayed U.S.-South Korean military drills as offensive exercises, though allies describe the drills as defensive. Many experts say North Korea uses its rivals’ drills as an excuse to aggressively expand its nuclear arsenal and overall military capabilities.
In New York, the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency open meeting Monday morning at the request of the United States, United Kingdom, Albania, Ecuador, France and Malta in response to North Korea’s March 16 ICBM launch.
The UN Security Council held an informal meeting on Friday in which the US, its allies and human rights experts focused on what they described as North Korea’s dire rights situation. China and Russia condemned the meeting as a political move that could further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea’s UN mission issued a statement on Sunday calling the meeting an illegal “over our non-existent “human rights issue””. It also said the US held Friday’s meeting as “aggressive joint military exercises that pose a serious threat to our national security.”