North Korea says launches were mock attack, as South recovers missile parts

SEOUL, Nov 7 (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday its recent missile launches were mock strikes against South Korea and the United States as the two countries staged a “dangerous war exercise”, while that the South said it had recovered parts of a North Korean Missile near its shores.

Last week, North Korea tested several missiles, including one possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and hundreds of artillery shells in the sea, as South Korea and the United States carried out six-day aerial exercises that ended on Saturday.

The Northern Army said the “Vigilant Storm” drills were an “open provocation aimed at intentionally escalating tension” and “a dangerous exercise in warfare of a very aggressive nature”.

The North’s military said it carried out activities simulating attacks on airbases and aircraft, as well as a major South Korean city, to “crush the enemies’ lingering war hysteria”.

The wave of missile launches was the largest ever in a single day and comes amid a record year of missile tests by nuclear-armed North Korea.

South Korean and US officials also said Pyongyang had 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 on Sunday and condemned the recent tests, including the “reckless” launch of a missile that landed off the south coast. Korea last week, according to a statement from the US State Department.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said on Monday that a South Korean ship had recovered debris believed to be part of the North Korean short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). It was the first time a North Korean ballistic missile had landed near South Korean waters.

The South Korean navy salvage vessel used an underwater probe to retrieve the parts, which are being analyzed, the official said.


North Korea’s military said it fired two “strategic” cruise missiles on November 2 at waters off South Korea’s Ulsan, the 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 nearby missiles.

Analysts said some of the photos released by North Korean state media appeared to have been recycled from launches earlier in the year.

Operations also included the launch of two “tactical ballistic missiles loaded with cluster warheads“, a test of a” special functional warhead crippling the enemy’s operations command system “and a”all-out combat sortie“involving 500 fighter jets, according to a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

Five hundred fighters would represent nearly all of the dedicated fighter aircraft in the North’s inventory, which seems unlikely given that many airframes are between 40 and 80 years old and not all are serviceable or retained in the active fleet, a said Joseph Dempsey, defense researcher at the International Institute. for strategic studies.

“(The) number of 500 seems exaggerated or at least misleading,” he said in a post on Twitter.

The North Korean People’s Army (KPA) General Staff accused Seoul and Washington of provoking a “more volatile confrontation” and pledged to counter their maneuvers with “sustained, resolute and overwhelming practical military measures.” “.

“The more persistently the provocative military moves of the enemies continue, the more thoroughly and ruthlessly the KPA will counter them,” he said in the statement.


Photos released by state media appeared to show a new type or variant of ICBM that had never been reported before, analysts said.

“It’s not explicit in their statement, but the design doesn’t match what we’ve seen before,” said Ankit Panda, missile expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He said the launch shown may have been a development platform for evaluating missile subsystems, possibly including a vehicle for multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), which allow a single missile to drop nuclear warheads on different targets.

“It’s definitely an ICBM-sized missile,” Panda said.

George William Herbert, an assistant professor at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and a missile consultant, said the images showed what appeared to be a new nose on North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM, which had been first tested in 2017.

The nose is a different shape and appears larger than needed for the 200-300 kiloton nuclear device featured in state media and apparently tested in 2017, he said.

Herbert said the shape is more suited to a single large warhead than multiple smaller warheads such as a MIRV.

Kim called for the development of larger nuclear warheads, as well as smaller ones, which could be used in MIRVs or for tactical weapons.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Diane Craft and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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