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North Korea’s Kim oversees a mock nuclear counterattack against the United States and South Korea

SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen drills simulating a nuclear counterattack on the United States and South Korea in a warning to allies stepping up joint military drills, state media KCNA said Monday.

The Northern drills involved a short-range missile launch but – unusually – the missile flew from a buried silo, which analysts say would help improve the speed and stability of future intercontinental ballistic missile tests ( ICBMs).

KCNA said the exercises on Saturday and Sunday were aimed at strengthening the country’s “war deterrence and nuclear counterattack capability”, accusing Washington and Seoul of making an “explicit attempt to start a war” against it.

“The exercise also aimed to demonstrate our firmer will to make a real response to war and to send a stronger warning to the enemy who are extending their war exercises to aggression,” KCNA said.

During the drills, a ballistic missile fitted with a mock nuclear warhead traveled 497 miles before hitting a target in a tactical nuclear attack scenario, KCNA said.

KCNA photos showed Kim witnessed the test, still with her young daughter, as flames roared from the booming missile before it hit the target.

Analysts said the photos suggested the launch involved a KN-23 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), but unlike earlier tests, the engine exhaust appeared to be vented to either side as it lifted off, which could mean that a silo was used.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter watch a warhead missile launch, in footage released on Monday. KCNA/AFP-Getty Images

“So far, North Korea has preferred mobile launchers for everything from SRBMs to huge ICBMs, but given the poor road and system conditions, it was difficult to ensure missile stability during actual operations.” , said Yang Uk, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “The latest launch could possibly serve as a test for future launches of larger missiles like the Hwasong-17 ICBM in a silo.”

South Korea’s defense ministry spokesman said the North was making significant technological progress in its nuclear program, but did not give details.

Kim said the drills improved the military’s war capability and urged the military to be ready for any “immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack at any time.”

“The current situation, in which the enemies are becoming more and more pronounced in their moves of aggression against the DPRK, urgently demands that the DPRK strengthen its nuclear war deterrence exponentially,” he said, quoted by KCNA.

Kim used the acronym of his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea's Kim oversees a mock nuclear counterattack against the United States and South Korea

“The DPRK nuclear force will strongly deter, control and handle reckless enemy moves and provocations with its high war readiness, and accomplish its important mission without hesitation in the event of an undesirable situation,” he said. added.

South Korea and Japan reported the launch of a North Korean short-range ballistic missile off the east coast on Sunday, the latest in a series of missile tests in recent weeks.

North Korea reacted furiously to the combined South Korea-US military drills, calling them a rehearsal for an invasion against it.

The allies have conducted drills this month, including air and sea drills on Sunday involving US B-1B bombers.

The U.S. and South Korean navies and marine corps are set to kick off their first large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises in five years on Monday for a two-week run through April 3.

Last month, the two countries held table-top exercises simulating North Korea’s nuclear attack amid pressure from South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for more confidence in the US’ extended deterrence – its capability military, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks against its allies.

In a separate dispatch, KCNA said more than 1.4 million North Koreans have volunteered to join or re-enlist in the military to fight Seoul and Washington, compared to about 800,000 reported by a state-run newspaper. two days before.


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