North Korean state media reported Monday that earlier missile launches were intended to “hit and wipe out” potential South Korean and U.S. targets following recent U.S. and South Korea naval drills.
“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 Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un indicated additional provocative tests were to come.
The KCNA reported the missile tests were in response to Friday’s naval drills between the U.S. and South Korea that engaged the use of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
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State media reported that the aforementioned drills were viewed as military threats by North Korea. The country decided to stage “the simulation of an actual war” as a result. The drills were meant to check and improve the country’s war deterrence while also standing as a warning sign for enemies.
The drills also took place just one day after North Korea fired ballistic missiles and flew warplanes amid rising tensions between the Asian countries. North Korea had also fired ballistic missiles over Japan on Tuesday in response to earlier training with South Korean navy ships.
The missiles fired over Japan proved to be North Korea’s longest-ever weapons test, with the missiles having the capability to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and farther. The Japanese government was forced to issue evacuation alerts as result.
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Cheong Seong-Chang at South Korea’s Sejong Institute told the Associated Press North Korea’s missile launches over Japan marked the country’s first time performing drills while engaging army units in charge of operating tactical nuclear weapons.
It was also North Korea’s first public missile launch from an inland reservoir, with a previous missile having been launched from a submarine.
Tensions between the North and South have grown more aggressive over the last several months, with the North now viewing U.S. and South Korean drills as an invasion rehearsal. Such drills have been expanding since May when a new conservative government was inaugurated in South Korea.
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All North Korean launches since then have been supervised by Kim Kong Un. Experts currently believe Kim Jong Un will eventually make use of North Korea’s advanced nuclear arsenal to gain recognition from the U.S. as a legitimate nuclear state.
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Kim Jong Un has previously stated the recent missile launches are “an obvious warning” to both Seoul and Washington as the countries continue their drill activities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.