North Korea tests new weapon system aimed at improving effectiveness of ‘tactical nuclear weapons’

State media said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the weapon test, which will increase the “operational effectiveness of the North’s tactical nuclear weapons.”

On Sunday, state media said that North Korea has conducted tests of a new weapons system that will increase the effectiveness of its tactical nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un noted the testing of a new guided tactical weapon that will increase and improve the firepower of long-range artillery. Effective operation of the tactical nuclear weapons of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and diversification of its firepower missionsThe Korean Central News Agency said, without specifying the exact date of the test launch.

South Korea’s armed forces headquarters said it detected two projectiles fired late Saturday, which flew 110 kilometers at an altitude of 25 kilometers at a speed of about Mach 4. The United States said it was “aware” of North Korea’s statement about the test, and a Pentagon spokesman said they were monitoring the situation.

Pictures published by Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed Kim smiling, surrounded by uniformed officials and cheering as he watched what was described as a weapon test. The commander gave the military research team “Important Instructions on Further Strengthening of Defense Capabilities and Nuclear Combat Forces”The Korean Central News Agency added.

short range ballistic missile

Analysts say that this weapon is a short-range ballistic missile, but it is no less important. “This test of a tactical nuclear delivery device comes amid increasing indications of significant reconstruction work at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Satellite images showed signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri site, which North Korea says was demolished in 2018 ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit. North Korea celebrated the 110th birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il-sung, on Friday with a huge public procession, fireworks and simultaneous dancing — but there was no military parade as many observers had expected.

South Korean and US analysts and officials also believe that a nuclear test was possible on this important anniversary. The celebrations came three weeks after Pyongyang conducted its largest ICBM test, its first since 2017. At a key party congress in January 2021, Kim presented a five-year defense development plan, calling for high-tech nuclear development and industrialization. of smaller, lighter nuclear weapons for “more tactical uses”.

The statements refer to a return to nuclear testing, and Kim’s rare presence in a short-range missile launch, the first in more than two years, indicates “particular significance,” according to Banda.

To the seventh attempt?

Last month’s test marked the end of a self-imposed moratorium on long-range nuclear tests, which was suspended after Kim met then-US President Donald Trump. Officials and analysts say North Korea may conduct its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.

Satellite images showed signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which North Korea says was demolished in 2018 ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit. North Korea has tested its nuclear weapons six times since 2006, and touted the success of its newest and most powerful hydrogen bomb in 2017, with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons.

With a new nuclear test, experts believe, Pyongyang will seek to miniaturize its nuclear warheads to mount them on its ICBMs. South Korean officials said Pyongyang could still hold a military parade or conduct a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

The anniversary coincides with the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which are scheduled to begin on Monday. South Korea and the United States regularly conduct military exercises, but Pyongyang has regularly protested these exercises by condemning preparations for war.

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