North Korea tests new weapons to strengthen its nuclear capabilities

Seoul, South Korea-North Korea has tested a new type of tactical guided weapon designed to enhance the capabilities of its nuclear weapons, state media reported on Sunday, the day before the United States and South Korea began annual training.

This year’s thirteenth weapons test was conducted in fear that North Korea could soon make a bigger provocation. This could include a nuclear test to expand the country’s arsenal and increase pressure on Washington and Seoul while denuclearization negotiations are stagnant.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Prime Minister Kim Jong-un had observed what was called a successful weapon launch. It released a photo showing radiant Kim clapping his hands with a military officer.

Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a private location of a dateless photo provided by the North Korean government on April 17, 2022. (Korea Central News Agency / Korea News Agency via Associated Press)

KCNA said the tested weapons “dramatically improve the firepower of frontline long-range artillery weapons, increase the operational efficiency of (North Korean) tactical nuclear weapons, and have significant implications for the diversification of firepower missions. “.

Although KCNA did not elaborate, the use of the term “tactical nuclear weapon” suggests that the weapon is likely to carry a nuclear warhead that could attack South Korea’s strategic targets, including US military facilities. Suggested. The KCNA dispatch did not say when and where the launch took place.

“North Korea is trying to deploy not only long-range nuclear missiles targeting American cities, but also tactical nuclear weapons that threaten Seoul and American bases in Asia,” said Professor Reif Eric Easley of Euha University in Seoul. rice field.

“North Korea’s purpose is likely to go beyond deterrence and the survival of the regime … North Korea has such weapons to limit political coercion, expansion of the battlefield, and willingness to intervene in conflicts in other countries. May want, “he said.

Some observers have shown that the weapon shown in the North Korean photo is a small, lightweight version of the nuclear-capable KN-23 missile with highly mobile flight aimed at defeating the missile defense system. He said it suggests the possibility of being. Some have said it could be a new missile that combines the technical features of the KN-23 with another short-range ballistic missile called the KN-24.

North Korean weapons
Weapons will be launched in a private location in North Korea with a dateless photo provided by the North Korean government on April 17, 2022. (Korea Central News Agency / Korea News Agency via Associated Press)

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it had detected two launches from Hamhung, a town on the east coast of North Korea, on Saturday evening.

The missile flew about 110 kilometers (68 miles) at an altitude of 25 kilometers (16 miles) and a top speed of Mach 4. The South Korean presidential office said officials met twice this weekend to discuss North Korea’s military activities.

South Korean troops said late Sunday that nine-day spring training with the United States would begin on Monday. The Allies said they had decided to conduct a computer simulation command post exercise without field training after considering factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Allies’ comprehensive defense readiness.

Exercises could further increase hostility on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea had previously responded with its own weapon tests and intense rhetoric.

North Korea has launched a number of weapons tests this year, including the first flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the continental United States since 2017. South Korea recently said it had detected signs that North Korea was rebuilding its tunnel in a nuclear test. It was partially dismantled a few weeks before it now enters-suspending nuclear negotiations with the United States in 2018.

Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a private place with no dated photos provided by the North Korean government on April 17, 2022. (Korea Central News Agency / Korea News Agency via Associated Press)

Jung Sung-chan, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said the possibility of a nuclear test by North Korea would include tactical nuclear warheads. He predicted that North Korea would mount tactical nuclear warheads on the weapons tested this weekend and promote the deployment of such nuclear missiles near the South Korean border.

“North Korea has a domestic obligation to build and perfect the weapons Kim Jong Un ordered last year, regardless of what the United States does. This test also reveals to his people theirs. Despite the financial difficulties, their country has shown to be strong, “said Doyoung Kim, senior analyst at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. “One of the reasons for political timing may be to protest the expected US-Korea military exercises.”

On Friday, Kim Il Sung attended a large private parade in Pyongyang to commemorate his grandfather, Kim Il Sung’s 110th birthday. The administration seemed to have passed its most important holiday without the long-awaited military parade to introduce its new weapons system.

Kim may still hold a military parade on April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army. But if that anniversary takes place again without a military parade, some experts could mean that Kim doesn’t have the new powerful missiles to show off, and his next provocative Steps are likely to be a nuclear test.

Kim Hyun Jin

Associated Press