North Korea claims it’s building underwater Nuclear Weapons silos
North Korea’s recent barrage of missile launches were the simulated use of its tactical battlefield nuclear weapons to “hit and wipe out” potential South Korean and U.S. targets, state media reported Monday, as its leader Kim Jong Un signaled he would conduct more provocative tests.
The North’s statement, released on the 77th birthday of its ruling Workers’ Party, is seen as an attempt to burnish Kim’s image as a strong leader at home amid pandemic-related hardships as he’s defiantly pushing to enlarge his weapons arsenal to wrest greater concessions from its rivals in future negotiations.
“Through seven times of launching drills of the tactical nuclear operation units, the actual war capabilities … of the nuclear combat forces ready to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time were displayed to the full,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
KCNA said the missile tests were in response to recent naval drills between U.S. and South Korean forces, which involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for the first time in five years.
Viewing the drills as a military threat, North Korea decided to stage “the simulation of an actual war” to check and improve its war deterrence and send a warning to its enemies, KCNA said.
North Korea considers U.S.-South Korean military drills as an invasion rehearsal, though the allies have steadfastly said they are defensive in nature. Since the May inauguration of a conservative government in Seoul, the U.S. and South Korean militaries have been expanding their exercises, posing a greater security threat to Kim.
The launches — all supervised by Kim — included a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched under a reservoir in the northeast; other ballistic missiles designed to launch nuclear strikes on South Korean airfields, ports and command facilities; and a new-type ground-to-ground ballistic missile that flew over Japan, KCNA reported. It said North Korea also flew 150 warplanes for separate live-firing and other drills in the country’s first-ever such training.
Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said the missile launches marked the first time for North Korea to perform drills involving army units tasked with the operation of tactical nuclear weapons.
The North’s public launch of a missile from under an inland reservoir was also the first of its kind, though it has previously test-launched missiles from a submarine.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, said North Korea likely aims to diversify launch sites to make it difficult for its enemies to detect its missile liftoffs in advance and conduct preemptive strikes.
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