(MENAFN) North Korea has described its latest ballistic missile launch as a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea, as its leader, Kim Jong Un, called for his nuclear forces to sharpen their war readiness in response to his rival's expanding military exercises with the United States. The missile launch came less than an hour before the United States flew long-range B-1B bombers for joint training with South Korean warplanes as part of the allies' biggest combined training in years. The North has condemned the exercises as a rehearsal for a potential invasion.
According to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the missile, which flew about 800 kilometers, was tipped with a mock nuclear warhead. The test reaffirmed the reliability of the weapon's nuclear explosion control devices and warhead detonators. KCNA said that the launch was the final step of a two-day drill that also involved nuclear command and control exercises and training military units to switch more quickly into nuclear counterattack posture.
Kim, who attended the missile launch with his daughter, instructed his military to consistently conduct such drills simulating actual war conditions to make the units "more perfectly prepared in their active posture of making an immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack anytime." He urged the need to bolster his nuclear deterrent "exponentially" and laid out unspecified "strategic tasks" for further developing his nuclear forces and improving their war readiness. This indicated that the North could up the ante in its weapons demonstrations in coming weeks or months.
Sunday's short-range launch was the North's fifth missile event this month and the third since the U.S. and South Korean militaries began joint exercises on March 13. The drills, which are to continue through Thursday, include computer simulations and field exercises that are the biggest of their kind since 2018. North Korea's missile launches and nuclear ambitions have been a major concern for the international community, and the recent events have raised tensions in the region. The situation highlights the need for diplomatic efforts to address the issue and prevent a potential military conflict.
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