The seven recent North Korean missile launches were all “tactical nuclear” exercises personally watched by leader Kim Jong Un, the state-run KCNA news agency reported on Monday.
“The units of the Korean People’s Army in charge of the use of tactical nuclear weapons organized military exercises from September 25 to October 9 to verify and evaluate the country’s nuclear deterrence and counterattack capacity, which constitutes a stern warning to enemies. “KCNA posted.
The agency added that “Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of its Central Military Commission, guided the military exercises at the site.”
At a party congress in January 2021, Kim outlined a five-year military plan in which he outlined the development of smaller, lighter nuclear weapons for “more tactical uses.”
The intelligence services of South Korea and the United States have been warning for months of a possible new nuclear test by Pyongyang, which would be the first since 2017.
The United States, South Korea and Japan have intensified their joint military exercises in the area in recent weeks.
In a separate statement, the North Korean regime said it was “dealing very seriously with the extremely worrying development of the current situation,” referring to the presence of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier at the maneuvers in the area.
These maneuvers are “extremely provocative and threatening,” the KCNA agency said.
North Korean missiles
With the end of the war on the peninsula divided in two, in 1953, Pyongyang, considering itself surrounded by US missiles installed in the South and Japan, sought to equip itself with a nuclear weapon. Hundreds of its scientists were trained in the USSR.
In the mid-1960s, he set up an atomic energy research center in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang.
In 2005, under the guise of a “hostile” US policy, Pyongyang ended a six-year-old moratorium on long-range missile launches. In 2006, it conducts its first underground nuclear test.
The UN then imposed economic sanctions on it, which it has frequently prolonged.
In 2009, the North abandoned the six-way negotiations (with the South, China, Russia, the United States and Japan) regarding its nuclear program, which began in 2003. At the end of May that year, it carried out the second underground nuclear test.
In 2011, Kim Jong Un succeeded his father. North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs make great strides.
The following year, the launch of a rocket and the putting into orbit of a satellite (which failed) mark a milestone in the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
In 2013, the top North Korean leader supervises the third nuclear test, much more powerful than the previous ones.
Following a fourth test in January 2016, Kim claimed that the North has succeeded in miniaturizing a thermonuclear warhead. In early August of that year, it launched the first ballistic missile directly into Japan’s maritime economic zone.
On September 9, it carries out a fifth nuclear test. The regime claims to have tested a nuclear warhead capable of being installed on a long-range missile.
The sixth nuclear test, announced as a hydrogen bomb, takes place on September 3, 2017. Specialists calculate a released energy of 250 kilotons, 16 times more than that which devastated Hiroshima.
At the end of November, North Korea tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, capable of carrying “a huge heavy warhead” capable of reaching the entire United States.
Kim announced in late April 2018 a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range ballistic missile launches, saying he has met his goals.
Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington were revived in 2018, with a historic June summit between then-US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore. But, in February 2019, another summit in Hanoi turned out to be a fiasco.
In October 2020, North Korea unveiled an ICBM. Experts say it is the world’s largest road-transportable liquid fuel missile.
Pyongyang launches an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on March 24, 2022, which lands in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
It is the most powerful fired since 2017. Pyongyang claims it is the new Hwasong-17. Washington and Seoul think it is an older Hwasong-15.
Missiles launched since September
In early September this year, North Korea passed a law authorizing it to carry out a pre-emptive nuclear strike and declaring its status as an “irreversible” nuclear power.
On September 24, North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast, ahead of planned military exercises by South Korean and US forces with an aircraft carrier and a visit to the region by US Vice President Kamala Harris.
The South Korean military said it was a single short-range ballistic missile fired from near the Taechon area in North Pyongyan province shortly before 7 a.m. local time.
Four days later, on September 28, Pyongyang launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast, according to the South’s military, just a day before US Vice President Kamala Harris is due to arrive in Seoul.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces conducted a military drill in waters off the country’s east coast, involving an aircraft carrier. On Sunday, North Korea fired another ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast.
Wednesday’s missiles were launched from the Sunan area of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, between 6:10 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. local time.
They flew some 360km, reaching an altitude of 30km and a top speed of Mach 6, they said.
A day later, North Korea carried out a new launch of two ballistic missiles off its eastern coast, according to the South Korean military.
“The South Korean military detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired from Sunchon, South Pyongan province, towards the east coast between 8:48 p.m. and 8:57 p.m.,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
“Amid heightened surveillance, our military remains fully prepared and working closely with the United States,” he added.
The launch came as US Vice President Kamala Harris was visiting South Korea to back the US ally.
On Oct. 4, North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile in an easterly direction, prompting a rare warning from the Japanese government urging residents to take shelter “inside buildings or underground.” According to NHK television, the alarm concerned two northern regions.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office tweeted that “a projectile that appears to be a North Korean ballistic missile has probably flown over Japan.”
On Thursday, October 6, Pyongyang fired “an unspecified ballistic missile into the East Sea,” also known as the Sea of Japan. The next day, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Thursday and said its recent weapons tests are “retaliatory measures” against military exercises by the United States and South Korea.
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea early Sunday, the South Korean military said.
With information from AFP