North Korea Says Launches Were Simulated Attack, As South Recovers Missile Parts

North Korea said on Monday that its recent missile launches were Simulated attacks on South Korea and the US because the two countries were holding a “dangerous war drill.” The South, meanwhile, said it had found parts of a North Korean missile near its coast. North Korea fired several missiles and hundreds of artillery shells into the sea last week as South Korea and the United States did air drills for six days that ended on Saturday. One of the missiles may have been a failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The North’s military said that the “Vigilant Storm” exercises were an “open provocation” and “a dangerous war drill with a very high aggressive nature.”

The North’s army said it had done things that looked like attacks on air bases, planes and a major city in South Korea to “crush the enemies’ persistent war hysteria.” North Korea, which has nuclear weapons, has launched more missiles than ever in a single day. This is part of a record number of missile tests this year.

North Korea Says Launches Were Simulated Attack
North Korea Says Launches Were Simulated Attack

South Korean and U.S. officials have also said that Pyongyang has made technical plans to test a nuclear device for the first time since 2017.

According to a statement from the U.S. State Department, senior officials from the United States, Japan, and South Korea spoke on the phone on Sunday and denounced the most recent tests, including the “reckless” launch of a missile that landed last week off the coast of South Korea. On Monday, a member of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that a South Korean ship had found pieces of that North Korean short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). was the first time a ballistic missile from North Korea landed near South Korean waters.

An official said that the South Korean Navy rescue ship used an underwater probe to find the pieces, which are now being looked at.

Disputed Claims

The North Korean military said that on November 2, it fired two “strategic” cruise missiles toward South Korea’s Ulsan, a city on the southeast coast that has a nuclear power plant and a lot of factories. South Korean officials said that was not true and that they had not seen any missiles near that area.

Analysts said that some of the photos released by North Korea’s state media seemed to be from launches earlier in the year.

North Korea Says Launches Were Simulated Attack

The operations also included the launch of two “tactical ballistic missiles loaded with dispersion warheads,” the test of a “special functional warhead paralyzing the operation command system of the enemy,” and an “all-out combat sortie” with 500 fighter jets, according to a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. Joseph Dempsey, a defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that 500 fighters would be almost all of the North’s dedicated combat aircraft, which seems unlikely since many of them have airframes that are 40–80 years old and are not all kept in service or in the active fleet.

“The 500 number seems too high or, at the very least, misleading,” he said in a tweet.

The General Staff of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) accused Seoul and Washington of making a “more unstable confrontation” and promised to respond to their drills with “steadfast, resolute, and overwhelming practical military measures.”

In a statement, the KPA said, “The more often the enemies make provocative military moves, the more thoroughly and harshly the KPA will respond.”

New Missile?

Analysts said that the photos released by state media seemed to show a new type or version of an ICBM that had not been reported before. Ankit Panda, an expert on missiles at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “It’s not clear from what they said, but the design doesn’t match any we’ve seen before.”

He said that the launch shown could have been a platform for testing missile subsystems, possibly including a vehicle for multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), which let a single missile drop nuclear warheads on different targets.

Panda said, “This is definitely the size of an ICBM.

George William Herbert, an adjunct professor at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and a missile consultant, said that the pictures showed what looked like a new nosecone on North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM, which was first tested in 2017.

He said that the nosecone has a different shape and looks bigger than it needs to be for the 200- to 300-kiloton nuclear device that state media showed was tested in 2017. Herbert said that the shape is better for a single big warhead than for a MIRV with several smaller ones.

Kim has asked for the creation of both bigger and smaller nuclear warheads that could be used in MIRVs or as tactical weapons.

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