North Korea Claims Use of Nuclear Control System

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un | Image by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

North Korea claims to have tested a new nuclear command-and-control system on Monday that enhances the nation’s ability to deploy nuclear weapons and respond to nuclear threats.

Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that four missiles were fired at targets on an island about 220 miles away from North Korea, per CNN. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claims to have directed the missile test in response to an annual aerial exercise conducted by the United States and South Korea.

Kim called the annual joint exercise “extremely provocative and aggressive,” according to KCNA. He reportedly stated that North Korea’s testing was to assist in preparing its nuclear forces for “their important mission of deterring a war and taking the initiative in a war.”

The system was designed to allow the rapid switching from firing conventional rockets to nuclear-armed ballistics.

“How mature this command-and-control system already is, or will become, remains very difficult to assess,” said Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, per CNN. Dempsey added that the test was designed to “portray wider credibility and capability in nuclear forces proficiency.”

North Korea has not disclosed the number of nuclear weapons the country possesses nor the full scale of its capabilities. It is currently believed that they do not have the technology to fit nuclear warheads into smaller missiles and rockets. Still, recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles show they can strike the mainland United States, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

North Korea regularly displays its willingness to launch attacks during joint military exercises. Last week, the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) News reported that North Korea conducted a test of a superheavy warhead and an antiaircraft battery. The nation also launched a ballistic missile barrage that was tracked by South Korea. The missiles landed in the Sea of Japan. Another ballistic missile was launched on April 22 that landed near the coast of South Korea.

“North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated launches of ballistic missiles, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community. Furthermore, such ballistic missile launches violate relevant Security Council resolutions and are a serious issue concerning national safety. Japan has strongly protested and strongly condemned North Korea,” read a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense, reported USNI News.

In August 2023, Kim ordered nuclear weapons to be deployed onto North Korean navy ships. It is not clear whether the nation currently can arm ships, but the threat of doing so escalated the danger in the region. As with Monday’s demonstration, the order to arm ships was a response to joint military drills held days earlier in 2023.

Increased military testing by North Korea has led the U.S. to increase joint exercises in the region. In August 2023, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan arranged a trilateral agreement to hold drills and share information. The alliance is intended to counter the rising threats presented by China, Russia, and North Korea.

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