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PoliticsNorth Korea

North Korea says missile launch was nuclear response drill

April 23, 2024

North Korean state media has claimed Pyongyang tested a "nuclear trigger" simulation drill as a "warning signal" to the US and South Korea.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, supervises a drill on April 22
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shown supervising a test launch Image: KCNA/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a launch of "super-large" multiple rocket launchers intended for use in a nuclear counter-strike, state media KCNA said on Tuesday. 

The report said the launch, which took place on Monday, marked the first demonstration of Pyongyang's new nuclear-weapons management and control system called the "nuclear trigger."

On Monday, South Korean and Japanese authorities reported the launch of what they suspected to be several short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles landed in waters to the east.

According to the report, Kim said the drills were in preparation for North Korea's nuclear force to "correctly and rapidly" deter a war an "take initiative" in a war "in any time and any sudden situation." 

In 2022, North Korea presented itself as a "irreversible" nuclear weapons state, with a  nuclear doctrine that authorizes the military to launch preemptive nuclear strikes if the country's leadership perceives it is under threat. 

What's behind new tensions between North and South Korea

A 'warning' to US, South Korea 

KCNA said that Monday's drill was a "clear warning signal" to the United States and South Korea as it was carried out amid "provocative and invasive" joint military exercises which run from April 12 to April 26.

The US and South Korean air forces have said the annual exercises would serve for "demonstrating lethality in the air domain, and enhancing their ability to deter, defend, and defeat any adversary."

North Korea has accused the South and the US of inciting "extreme war fever" and openly talking about an "advance" towards North Korea. 

The launches come after Pyongyang's ally Russia used its United Nations Security Council veto in March to effectively end UN monitoring of sanctions violations on Kim's government for its nuclear and weapons program. 

On Saturday, the North Korean military announced that it had tested a "super-large" cruise missile warhead and a new anti-aircraft missile on Friday in an area along its Western coast.

mk/wmr (AP. Reuters, dpa, AFP)