10 October 2022

North Korea confirms nuclear missile launches are tests to ‘wipe out’ enemies

10 October 2022

North Korea says its recent barrage of missile launches were tests of its tactical nuclear weapons’ capacity to “hit and wipe out” potential South Korean and US targets.

Leader Kim Jong Un signalled he would conduct more provocative tests in coming weeks.

The North’s statement, released on the 77th birthday of its ruling Workers’ Party, is seen as an attempt to buttress a public unity behind Mr Kim as he faces pandemic-related economic hardships, a security threat posed by the boosted US-South Korean military alliance and other difficulties.

“Through seven times of launching drills of the tactical nuclear operation units, the actual war capabilities … of the nuclear combat forces ready to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time were displayed to the full,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The US and the South Korean regime’s steady, intentional and irresponsible acts of escalating the tension will only invite our greater reaction, and we are always and strictly watching the situation crisis

KCNA said the missile tests were in response to recent naval drills between US and South Korean forces, which involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Viewing the drills as a military threat, North Korea decided to stage “the simulation of an actual war” to check and improve its war deterrence and send a warning to its enemies, KCNA said.

North Korea considers US-South Korean military drills as an invasion rehearsal, though the allies have steadfastly said they are defensive in nature.

Since the May inauguration of a conservative government in Seoul, the US and South Korean militaries have been expanding their exercises, which had been previously scaled back due to the pandemic and the now-dormant nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.

The launches — all supervised by Mr Kim — included a nuclear-capable ballistic missile launched under a reservoir in the northeast; another ballistic missile also simulating the loading of tactical nuclear warheads designed to strike South Korean airfields; and a new-type ground-to-ground ballistic missile that flew over Japan, KCNA reported.

Mr Kim said the launches were “an obvious warning” to South Korea and the United States, informing them of North Korea’s nuclear response posture and attack capabilities.

“The US and the South Korean regime’s steady, intentional and irresponsible acts of escalating the tension will only invite our greater reaction, and we are always and strictly watching the situation crisis,” KCNA said.

Mr Kim also made it clear again that he has no intentions of resuming the disarmament diplomacy with the United States and would rather focus on expanding his weapons arsenal.

“Saying that the enemies have still talked about dialogue and negotiation while posing military threats to us, but we have no content for dialogue with the enemies and felt no necessity to do so,” Mr Kim was quoted as saying.

“Above all, we should send a clearer signal to the enemies escalating the regional situation by involving the huge armed forces in any time with more powerful and resolute will and action.”

Mr Kim said he would sternly take all unspecified military steps if necessary to respond to potential additional moves by South Korea and the United States.

He also expressed conviction that the nuclear combat forces of his military would maintain “their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way” to perform their duties of defending the North’s dignity and sovereign rights.

Some experts say Mr Kim’s comments suggest he could carry out more high-profile weapons tests, such as his country’s first nuclear test in five years.

South Korean officials recently said North Korea maintains readiness to perform its seventh nuclear test while preparing to test a new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

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