SEOUL, Nov 7 (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday it had recently launched missile strikes on South Korea and the United States as the two countries conducted “dangerous war drills” while retaking parts of South Korea. A North Korean missile near its coast.
Last week, North Korea launched several missiles, including a failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and hundreds of artillery shells into the sea, as South Korea and the United States conducted six days of air drills that ended Saturday.
The North’s military said the “Vigilant Storm” drills were “an open provocation aimed at deliberately increasing tension” and a “dangerous war exercise of a highly aggressive nature”.
The North’s military said it carried out operations simulating attacks on air bases and aircraft and a major South Korean city to “break the enemy’s continued belligerence”.
The flurry of missile launches comes amid a record year of missile tests by nuclear-armed North Korea, the most ever in a single day.
South Korean and US officials have also said Pyongyang has made technical preparations to test a nuclear device, the first time since 2017.
Senior diplomats from the United States, Japan and South Korea spoke by phone Sunday and condemned the latest tests, including the “irresponsible” missile that landed off South Korea’s coast last week, according to a U.S. State Department statement.
A South Korean ship has recovered debris believed to be part of a North Korean short-range missile (SRBM), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday. This is the first time a North Korean missile has been launched into South Korean waters.
A South Korean naval salvage ship recovered the parts using underwater inspection equipment, which are being analyzed, the official said.
North Korea’s military on Nov. 2 fired two “strategic” cruise missiles toward South Korea’s Ulsan Sea, a southeastern coastal city home to a nuclear power plant and large industrial parks.
South Korean officials called the claim “false” and said they had not tracked any missiles there.
Some of the photos released by North Korean state media appear to have been recycled since they were published earlier this year, analysts said.
These operations included testing two “dispersion warhead-loaded tactical ballistic missiles,” a “special operations warship that disables the enemy’s operational command system,” and an “all-out battle array” involving 500 fighter jets. According to a report carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The five hundred fighter jets represent all of the dedicated fighters in the North’s inventory, many with airframes 40-80 years old and not all likely to be serviceable or placed in the active fleet, said Joseph Dempsey, a defense analyst at the International Institute. For strategic studies.
“(The) 500 figure appears to be exaggerated or at least misleading,” he said in a post on Twitter.
The General Staff of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) accused Seoul and Washington of fomenting a “highly volatile conflict” and vowed to counter their exercises with “steady, firm and massive practical military action”.
“The more stubborn the enemy’s provocative military moves continue, the more thoroughly and mercilessly the KPA will confront them,” the statement said.
A new missile?
Analysts said the photos released by state media appeared to show a new type, or variant, of the ICBM that had not been previously announced.
“It’s not obvious in their report, but it’s not identical to a design we’ve seen before,” said Ankit Panda, a missile expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The demonstrated missile could be a development platform for evaluating missile subsystems, including a vehicle for multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to launch nuclear warheads at different targets.
“It’s definitely an ICBM-sized missile,” Panda said.
George William Herbert, associate professor and missile adviser at the Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation Studies, said the images show what appears to be a new nose planet on North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM, which was first tested in 2017.
Nasikon has a different shape and appears larger than what would be needed for a 200- to 300-kiloton nuclear device, which was shown in state media and tested in 2017, he said.
Herbert said the shape is more suited to a large warship than many smaller warships like the MIRV.
Kim has called for the development of large nuclear warheads and small nuclear warheads that could be used in MIRVs or for tactical weapons.
Reporting by Hyeonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Croft and Gerry Doyle
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