North Korea tests new tactical nuclear weapons system

North Korea accuses the United States of preparing an attack with its maneuvers in South Korea. Today, the country under Kim Jong-un has demonstrated its power: nuclear strike capabilities would have been increased.

North Korea says it has made further progress in boosting its nuclear strike capabilities. The country has successfully tested a new type of tactical guided missile, state media reported on Sunday, without giving the time of the test or other details. However, it was said that the development of this weapon system was of great importance in order to increase the firepower of artillery pieces on the front line and the efficiency of the use of “weapons nuclear tactics”. Leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test.

Tactical nuclear weapons or battlefield nuclear weapons are understood as nuclear weapons whose range and explosive power are significantly inferior to strategic nuclear weapons that can be used across a continent. They could theoretically be used in combat as a powerful alternative to conventional weapons, such as short-range missiles, artillery shells or even landmines. For example, they could also be dropped from aircraft as bombs.

One of the most dangerous conflicts in the world

The test came at a time of greater uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula. The United States and its ally South Korea fear that an isolated North Korea will soon carry out a new nuclear test after its last missile tests.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is one of the most dangerous conflicts in the world. The Stockholm Peace Research Institute Sipri estimates, based on the fissile material produced, that the country could build or have built 40 to 50 nuclear warheads.

Nuclear weapons as a guarantee of survival

North Korea withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 2003. The internationally isolated communist leadership in Pyongyang sees nuclear weapons as a guarantee of survival. It sticks to its nuclear program despite severe UN sanctions and accepts that the country’s economic development is hampered.

North Korea’s statements about the latest weapons test cannot be independently verified. South Korea’s armed forces general staff confirmed the test, but first referred to two “projectiles” North Korea fired offshore in the east on Saturday evening (local time). They flew about 110 kilometers at an altitude of up to 25 kilometers. Experts suspected that they could be short-range ballistic missiles.

Enhanced deterrence

UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles of any range, which, depending on their design, can also carry a nuclear warhead. Ballistic missiles are generally surface-to-surface missiles, most of which have a guidance system.

North Korea’s leaders have tied the latest weapons test directly to demands by the ruling Workers’ Party to bolster North Korea’s nuclear deterrent. Kim reportedly said he had instructed “to expand defense capabilities and nuclear force”.

The United States as the “main enemy”

In January 2021, Kim had called for the development of tactical nuclear weapons and new solid-propellant ICBMs that could also reach the United States. He had described the United States as “the main enemy”. Tactical nuclear weapons belong to a wide range of non-strategic nuclear weapons. According to experts, North Korea’s short-range missiles are mainly intended to hit targets in neighboring South Korea and evade the enemy’s missile defense system.

North Korea has tested missiles several times since the beginning of this year. At the end of March, neighboring countries and the United States were particularly alarmed by the downing of a North Korean (ICBM). ICBMs have ranges of over 5,500 kilometers. With this action, Pyongyang also broke a self-imposed moratorium on such missiles, which previously also applied to nuclear tests.

The nuclear test as a warning

Experts from the Stimson Center’s 38 North news site, which specializes in North Korea, recently reported, citing satellite images, that North Korea was apparently continuing to work on restoring a tunnel at its site. nuclear tests in the north. The country had carried out six nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test complex which exploded in 2018, the strongest in September 2017.

Observers say North Korea chose the timing of the latest weapons test to send a warning to South Korea and the United States. South Korea’s military announced on Sunday that the two countries will start a nine-day joint exercise on Monday. These are “computer simulations”, field exercises are not planned. The objective is to improve joint preparation capabilities.

The exercises were long overdue. North Korea regularly accuses the United States of preparing an attack with its maneuvers in South Korea. Both countries dispute this.

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