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Kim Jong Un Oversees 18-Missile Salvo Issues Warning to South Korea

Photo: Bloomberg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was reported to have supervised a firing drill involving 600mm "super-large" multiple rocket launchers on Thursday, according to the state news agency KCNA. The firing of these rockets is seen as a demonstration of North Korea's readiness to launch a preemptive strike against South Korea's government if deemed necessary to counter any potential attack. The drill follows South Korea's detection of at least 10 short-range ballistic missiles fired by North Korea off its east coast, which South Korean officials speculated could be a display for potential buyers, including Russia.

During the firing drill, artillery troops successfully targeted an island approximately 365 kilometers (227 miles) away, with Kim Jong Un overseeing the demonstration at the launch site, as reported by KCNA. Photos released by state media depicted 18 missiles, identified by experts as KN-25s, launching from mobile platforms. These "super-large" rockets, first tested in 2019, blur the lines between multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), according to the Center for International and Strategic Studies. North Korea has previously suggested the possibility of equipping such missiles with tactical nuclear weapons.

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Kim Jong Un emphasized the importance of readiness within North Korea's nuclear force to serve as a deterrent to war and to take proactive measures in the event of conflict, KCNA stated. A subsequent report by KCNA, in English, described the firing drill as a demonstration of North Korea's resolve to defend its sovereignty and retaliate against its adversaries.

The firing drill also showcased the use of a newly unveiled fire-control system, which is integrated into the country's combined nuclear weapons management system, as per KCNA. The launch of ballistic missile technology during the drill drew condemnation from the U.S. State Department, which labeled it as reckless and a violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Additionally, a report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency suggested that Russia has deployed North Korean missiles in its conflict in Ukraine, based on analysis of debris imagery. Both Russia and North Korea have denied engaging in arms deals that would contravene U.N. embargoes on Pyongyang but have expressed intentions to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, a column in KCNA criticized the deployment of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft near the Korean peninsula, alleging that such actions infringed on North Korea's sovereignty. The report also mentioned a recent incident where North Korea sent balloons containing waste material across the border into South Korea, a move that Seoul condemned as provocative and dangerous.

May 31, 2024 12:13 p.m. 411

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