NORTH KOREA: State media in North Korea stated on Thursday that Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles as a test to validate the functionality and dependability of nuclear-capable weaponry delivered to military units.
According to the state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the test fire was carried out on Wednesday with the intention of “improving the fighting efficiency and might” of cruise missiles supplied to the Korean People’s Army “for the operation of tactical nukes.”
“The nation should continue to expand the operational sphere of the nuclear strategic armed forces to resolutely deter any crucial military crisis or war crisis at any time and completely take the initiative in it, according to leader Kim Jong Un, who emphasised that the test launch was another clear warning to its enemies,” KCNA said.
On Monday, KCNA reported that in retaliation for recent joint naval drills between South Korean and American forces involving an aircraft carrier, Kim had directed nuclear tactical exercises targeting South Korea over the previous two weeks.
The nuclear capability and operational status were both confirmed by Wednesday’s test. However, it is still unknown if North Korea can produce warheads small enough for cruise missiles.
North Korea recently produced a number of smaller weapons, including cruise missiles, that fly low and manoeuvre to elude missile defences better.
Smaller warhead development is one of the North’s top priorities, according to Kim’s statement from last year, and officials in Seoul have said that if the North conducts nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, one of its objectives may be to do so.
United Nations Security Council resolutions do not expressly prohibit cruise missiles, they often draw less attention than ballistic missiles.
According to research released on Wednesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States, a recent underwater ballistic missile launch from a lake likely had more political than military purposes.
“Rather than an emerging threat, this test was most likely a propaganda and deception operation designed to focus regional and world attention on North Korea’s desired external image of a mighty and powerful nuclear-armed nation.”
The North’s search for novel nuclear weapons has reignited calls in South Korea for Seoul to abandon the Non-Proliferation Treaty and build its own arsenal or to restore American tactical nuclear weapons that were removed in 1991.