North Korea says it has tested and deployed ‘tactical nuke’ cruise missiles

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Kim Jong Un supervised the launch of two long-range cruise missiles, state media said Thursday, adding that the weapons had already been deployed to “tactical nuke” units of the North Korean army.

Kim has overseen a blitz of ballistic missile launches in recent weeks, which Pyongyang has described as tactical nuclear drills that simulated taking out airports and military facilities across South Korea.

The cruise missiles — which travel at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles, making them harder to detect and intercept — flew 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) over the sea before hitting their targets, the Korean Central News Agency said.

With talks long stalled, and Ukraine-linked gridlock at the United Nations stymying the chance of fresh sanctions, Kim has doubled down on developing and testing his banned nuclear arsenal.

Kim said North Korea will “focus all efforts on the endless and accelerating development of the national nuclear combat armed forces,” KCNA reported Thursday.

Kim made acquiring tactical nukes — smaller, lighter weapons designed for battlefield use — a top priority at a key party congress in January 2021.

“It is a testament to Pyongyang’s capability to mount nuclear warheads,” he said, adding that cruise missiles can also have irregular flight paths making them harder to intercept.

North Korea revised its nuclear laws last month to allow preemptive strikes, with Kim declaring North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear power — effectively ending the possibility of negotiations over its arsenal.

In response, North Korea organised drills that it said earlier this week had gamed out hitting South Korea’s ports, airports and military command facilities with tactical nukes. 

“North Korea’s cruise missiles, air force, and tactical nuclear devices are probably much less capable than propaganda suggests,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

bur-ceb/ssy

Originally published as North Korea says it has tested and deployed ‘tactical nuke’ cruise missiles


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