N. Korea drills ‘nuclear counterattack,’ appears to launch missile from silo
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un oversaw drills simulating a tactical nuclear counterattack, including launching a short range ballistic missile (SRBM) that appeared to fire from an underground silo, as a warning to the U.S. and South Korea, state media said Monday.
The North fired a missile equipped with a fake nuclear warhead from a buried silo on Sunday amid U.S. and South Korean combined war drills the Kim regime accused of “being frantically scaled up” as preparation for a future invasion, according to state-run media outlet KCNA. Launching the missile from a buried silo demonstrated the North’s ability to dramatically improve the speed and reliability of future intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, analysts told Reuters.
“The drill also aimed to demonstrate our tougher will to make an actual war response and send a stronger warning to the enemy,” KCNA said, accusing its adversaries of blatantly conducting offensive war drills with the intent to “unleash a war” against North Korea.
The warhead traveled nearly 500 miles before exploding above “target waters,” simulating a tactical “nuclear counterattack” on an enemy, KCNA said.
Photos depicted Kim observing the launch along with his daughter, who is seen as being groomed to succeed Kim, Reuters reported.
Engine exhaust emanated from two sides of the apparent KN-23 SRBM rather than straight down, according to photos of the launch, suggesting the missile had been housed in a silo, experts told Reuters.
“With a silo, you can quickly fire a missile, almost immediately,” Yang Uk, a fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, told Reuters. “And without launch preparations being detected in advance, you can just press a button.”
A spokesperson for South Korea’s ministry of defense said the North had marked significant milestones in the development of its nuclear program, according to Reuters.