North Korea tests new weapons to boost nuclear capability

North Korea says it has successfully tested a new advanced strategic guided weapon

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea is testing a new type of tactical-guided weapon designed to enhance its nuclear warfare capabilities, state media reported Sunday, with its main rivals the United States and South Korea conducting an offensive exercise a day before the start of annual military exercises. As the answer comments.

The test, the 13th round of weapons launches by Pyongyang this year, came amid concerns that North Korea could soon launch a major provocation, such as a nuclear test, in an effort to expand the country’s arsenal and increase pressure on Washington and Seoul amid stagnant diplomacy.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un had observed the successful launch of the weapon. It released a photo showing a surprised Kim clapping with military officers.

KCNA said the weapons tests were “significant improvements in the firepower of frontline long-range artillery units, enhanced (North Korea’s) strategic nuclear weapons handling capabilities and diversification of their firepower missions.”

The KCNA did not elaborate, but suggested that the use of the term “strategic atom” meant that the weapon could possibly carry a nuclear warhead on the battlefield that could hit South Korean strategic targets, including US military installations. KCNA did not say when or where the launch took place.

“North Korea is not only trying to deploy long-range nuclear missiles aimed at American cities, but also to deploy strategic nuclear weapons for US bases in Seoul and Asia,” said Leif-Eric Izley, a professor at Seoul’s Iowa University. “Pyongyang’s intentions will probably go beyond resistance and the survival of the regime. Russia has exploited fears that it could use strategic nuclear weapons, and North Korea may seek such weapons to limit political coercion, the escalation of the battlefield and the desire of other countries to intervene in the conflict. “

Some observers have suggested that the weapon shown in the North Korean photo may have been a smaller, lighter version of its nuclear-capable KN-23 missile, which has a highly propelled flight aimed at defeating the missile defense system. Others say it could be a new missile that combines the technical features of the KN-23 and another short-range ballistic missile called the KN-24.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Sunday that they had identified two projectile launches from the north-eastern coastal city of Hamhung on Saturday evening.

It said the missiles flew about 110 kilometers (68 miles) at 25 kilometers (16 miles) apogee and a maximum speed of 4 mph. The South Korean president’s office said officials had met twice this weekend to discuss North Korea’s military activity.

South Korea’s military said on Sunday that its nine-day spring military exercise with the United States would begin on Monday. It said the Allies decided to practice computer-simulated command post after reviewing issues such as the Covid-19 epidemic and the Allies’ combined defense preparations that do not involve field training.

The exercises could intensify hostilities on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea has previously responded with its own weapons tests and arson.

North Korea has started several weapons tests this year, including the first flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. homeland since 2017. South Korean and U.S. officials say Pyongyang could soon offer additional provocations, such as another ICBM test. Launch a rocket to put a spy satellite into orbit or even a nuclear test explosion which would be the seventh of its kind. South Korea’s military says it has identified signs that North Korea is rebuilding a tunnel at the site of a nuclear test that was partially dismantled in 2018, just weeks before it entered into now-dormant nuclear talks with the United States.

Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute, said North Korea’s potential nuclear test would involve a strategic nuclear warhead. He predicted that North Korea would press this weekend to mount a strategic nuclear warhead on tested weapons and deploy such nuclear missiles near the South Korean border.

In a statement sent to KCNA on Sunday, Kim was quoted as saying that North Korea’s nuclear warfare was “indefinite.” The sophisticated weapons system involved in the North’s recent experimental activities, which Kim has promised to deal with in what he calls American hostility.

“North Korea needs to build an internally compliant and sophisticated weapon that the United States did or did not order Kim Jong Un to do last year. The test also tells its people that their country is strong despite their apparent economic difficulties, “said Dwayne Kim, a senior analyst at the Washington Center for New American Security. One reason for the political turmoil could be the expected US-South Korea military exercise.

On Friday, Kim took part in a massive civilian parade in Pyongyang marking the 110th birth anniversary of his state-founding grandfather Kim Il Sung. The country appears to have passed its most important national holiday without a highly anticipated military parade to demonstrate its new weapons system.

Kim could still hold a military parade on April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean military. But if that anniversary goes without a military parade again, some experts say it means Kim has no new powerful missiles to demonstrate, and his next provocative move could possibly be a nuclear test.

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Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

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