North Korean leader leads rocket drills that simulate nuclear counterattack

23 April 2024, 05:34

North Korea
North Korea. Picture: PA

It adds to tests and threats that have raised tensions in the region.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised launches of the country’s “super-large” multiple rocket launchers that simulated a nuclear counterattack against enemy targets, state media said on Tuesday.

It adds to tests and threats that have raised tensions in the region.

The report by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) came a day after the South Korean and Japanese militaries detected the North firing what they suspected were multiple short-range ballistic missiles from a region near its capital, Pyongyang, towards its eastern seas.

Analysts say North Korea’s large-sized artillery rockets blur the boundary between artillery systems and ballistic missiles because they can create their own thrust and are guided during delivery.

The North has described some of these systems, including the 600mm multiple rocket launchers that were tested on Monday, as capable of delivering tactical nuclear warheads.

South Korea Koreas Tensions
A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news programme at the Seoul Railway Station (Lee Jin-man/AP)

KCNA said Monday’s launches represented the first demonstration of the country’s nuclear-weapons management and control system called Haekbangashoe, or nuclear trigger.

The report described the drill as aimed at demonstrating the strength and diverse attack means of North Korea’s nuclear forces amid deepening tensions with the United States and South Korea, which it portrayed as “warmongers” raising tensions in the region with their combined military exercises.

State media photos showed at least four rockets being fired from launch vehicles as Mr Kim watched from an observation post.

It said the rockets flew 218 miles before accurately hitting an island target and that the drill verified the reliability of the “system of command, management, control and operation of the whole nuclear force”.

KCNA said Mr Kim expressed satisfaction, saying that the multiple rocket launchers were as accurate as a “sniper’s rifle”.

He said the drill was crucial for “preparing our nuclear force to be able to rapidly and correctly carry out their important mission of deterring a war and taking the initiative in a war in any time and any sudden situation”.

The comments reflected North Korea’s escalatory nuclear doctrine, which authorises the military to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against enemies if it perceives the leadership as under threat.

North Korea
This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says are rocket drills that simulate a nuclear counterattack against enemies (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the weapons from Monday’s launches flew about 185 miles before crashing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The ranges suggested the weapons would likely target sites in South Korea. The latest launches came as South Korea and the United States have been conducting a two-week combined aerial exercise that continues through Friday aimed at sharpening their response capabilities against North Korean threats.

When asked about the North Korean claims, Lee Sung Joon, spokesperson of South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, said it remains unclear whether the North perfected the designs for small, battlefield nuclear weapons that could fit on its rockets.

He insisted the North was likely exaggerating the accuracy of its multiple rocket launcher systems and that South Korea would be able to detect and intercept such weapons, without elaborating on specific missile defence capabilities.

In response to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats, the United States and South Korea have been strengthening their bilateral military drills and trilateral exercises with Japan. The countries are also sharpening their nuclear deterrence strategies built around strategic US assets.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Villagers search through a landslide in Yambali village in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s government says landslide buried 2,000 people

Rafah airstrike that killed dozens of Palestinians was 'tragic mistake', says Israel's Netanyahu

Rafah airstrike that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians was 'tragic mistake', says Israel's Netanyahu

Biden

Biden says each generation has to ‘earn’ freedom in Memorial Day remarks

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

Netanyahu acknowledges ‘tragic mistake’ after Rafah strike kills dozens

North Korea fails to launch 'spy satellite' into orbit again - but forces Japanese island to 'take cover'

North Korea fails to launch 'spy satellite' into orbit again - but forces Japanese island to 'take cover'

Kim Jong-un and North Korean flag (Alamy/PA)

North Korea says its attempt to put another spy satellite into orbit has failed

Austria IAEA

Iran further increases stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade level

Elon Musk in 2024

Elon Musk’s xAI raises six billion dollars to develop artificial intelligence

Racial and Gender Equity in European Football Conference – Thursday February 1st – City Ground

Ex-France footballer Karembeu says two of his relatives killed in New Caledonia

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah

Israel faces new condemnation over Rafah strikes

A man looks at a damaged car after a tornado in Valley View, Texas

At least 20 dead as storms carve path of destruction across southern US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, is welcomed by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Zelensky visits Spain in pursuit of weapons for Ukraine to fight Russia with

Vehicles move through a waterlogged street in Kolkata, India

Cyclone floods villages, blows away roofs and cuts power in Bangladesh and India

Iran’s acting president Mohammad Mokhber

Iran’s acting president addresses parliament after fatal helicopter crash

Around 15,000 locals took part in the protest

15,000 anti-tourism protesters boo holidaymakers in Majorca as organisers vow 'this is just the start'

Demonstrators with Georgia flags at a protest against the bill

Georgian parliament committee rejects presidential veto of media law