Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Monday, A barrage of recent missile launches It was a test of a tactical nuclear weapon to “attack and wipe out” potential targets in South Korea and the United States, state media reported Monday. Leader Kim Jong-un has signaled that more provocative tests will be conducted in the coming weeks.
North Korea’s statement, issued on the ruling Labor Party’s 77th birthday, is seen as an attempt to strengthen public solidarity as Kim faces pandemic-related economic hardships. and other difficulties.
“Through seven firing exercises of the tactical nuclear force, the actual war potential of the nuclear combat force, ready to strike and wipe out any set object at any time and anywhere, was maximized.” Official North Korea Central the news agency said.
According to KCNA, the missile test was a recent Naval Exercises Between U.S. and South Korean Armed ForcesThe nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was involved.
Pyongyang viewed the exercise as a military threat and decided to conduct “real war simulations” to check and improve its war deterrence and send warnings to its enemies, according to the KCNA.
North Korea sees US-South Korean military exercises as rehearsals for aggression, but is adamant that allies are defensive in nature. , U.S. and South Korean militaries are expanding exercises that were previously curtailed because of the pandemic and a dormant nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.
The launches, all supervised by Kim, included a nuclear ballistic missile launched under a reservoir in the northeast. Another ballistic missile that simulates loading a tactical nuclear warhead designed to hit airfields in South Korea.And new ground-to-ground Ballistic missile that flew over JapanKCNA reported.
Kim said the launch was a “clear warning” to South Korea and the US, signaling North Korea’s nuclear readiness and strike capabilities, KCNA said.
“The steady, intentional and irresponsible escalation of tensions by the US and South Korean governments will only invite a greater reaction from us, and we are always keeping a close eye on the crisis situation,” the KCNA said. rice field.
Kim also reiterated that he has no intention of resuming disarmament diplomacy with the US now, but rather concentrates on expanding its arms stockpile.
“The enemy poses a military threat to us, but we are talking about dialogue and negotiations, but we are not satisfied with the dialogue with the enemy and do not feel the need for dialogue,” Kim said. ‘ said. “Above all, we should send a clearer signal to our adversaries who are escalating the regional situation by involving large armed forces at any time with stronger and more determined will and action.”
Kim said he would resolutely take all unspecified military steps as necessary to respond to potential additional moves by South Korea and the United States. He also expressed confidence that his nuclear force would “maintain the strongest nuclear readiness and further strengthen it on all fronts” in order to fulfill its mission of defending North Korea’s dignity and sovereignty. did.
Some experts say Kim’s comments suggest he may be able to conduct more high-profile weapons tests, including the first nuclear test in five years. South Korean officials recently said North Korea is preparing to test a new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile and a submarine-launched ballistic missile while maintaining readiness to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
U.S. officials have repeatedly asked North Korea to return to talks without preconditions. However, North Korea has said it will not do so unless the United States first drops its hostile policy toward North Korea, citing regular military exercises between the United States and South Korea and U.S.-led economic sanctions.
Some experts say Kim Jong-un will eventually aim to use his advanced nuclear program to convince the United States to recognize North Korea as a legitimate nuclear power.
“North Korea now has multiple motives for releasing high-profile missile stories,” said Leif Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. Anniversary of the founding of the ruling Labor Party. ”
“North Korea is concerned about military exercises by the United States, South Korea and Japan, and has exposed the nuclear threat behind recent missile launches to bolster its self-proclaimed deterrence,” the KCNA report said. It could also be a harbinger of a nuclear test of a tactical warhead that would arm the troops Kim Jong-un visited there,” Easley said.