September 04, 2023 13:34
North Korea simulated a "tactical" nuclear missile attack by firing two long-range cruise missiles towards the West Sea in the early hours of last Saturday, state media said.
The firing came three days after the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles as part of a command post exercise to practice occupying South Korean territory that has been going on since Aug. 29.
There is speculation that the latest cruise missile firing was part of training aimed at occupying South Korea's northwesternmost islands, which lie only about a dozen km from the North Korean coast.
The two long-range missiles were tipped "with mock nuclear warheads," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. Fired from the estuary of the Chongchon River, the two missiles flew "along the pattern '8' flight track simulating the distance of 1,500 km for 7.672 and 7.681 seconds respectively and warheads detonated at a preset altitude of 150 m above the target island," it added.
The regime also conducted a midair nuclear explosion test of a ballistic missile tipped with a mock nuclear warhead on March 19.
It also unveiled a tactical nuclear warhead, dubbed “"Hwasan-31," on March 28, claiming that it can be mounted on 600-mm super-large multiple rocket launchers, cruise and other types of missiles and the "Haeil" unmanned nuclear attack sub now it has been "standardized."
Cruise missiles fly at a speed of about Mach 1, much slower than ballistic missiles with about Mach 10. But ballistic missiles fly along a preset parabolic trajectory, while cruise missiles are capable of hitting targets after flying at a low altitude along a figure of 8, skimming the surface and autonomously avoiding obstacles.
The launch comes shortly after the joint South Korea-U.S. Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise that ended last week. The North said it was meant to "warn the enemies of the actual nuclear war danger."
"The recklessness and dangerous nature of the confrontation hysteria recently betrayed by the U.S. and gangsters of [South Korea] are unprecedented in history," KCNA said.
"We're closely watching for the possibility of further provocations by the North," a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said. Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, the JCS chief, "visited Yeonpyeong Island on Aug. 7, where he checked the readiness of the military unit stationed there."
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