North Korea has test-fired a new weapon system that will increase the effectiveness of its tactical nuclear weapons, state media said on Sunday (April 17th).
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of the new tactical guided weapon which will increase the firepower of long-range artillery and improve “the operating efficiency of the DPRK’s tactical nuclear weapons (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and the diversification of their firepower missions”, declared the news agency KCNA without specifying the exact date of this test firing. KCNA added that the test was successful.
Kim gave the military research team “important instructions on continuing to build defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces,” the KCNA news agency added. Photos published by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a smiling Kim — surrounded by uniformed officials — cheering as he watched what was described as the weapon’s test firing.
On Friday, North Korea celebrated the birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, with a huge public procession, fireworks and synchronized dancing – but no military parade as predicted by many observers. South Korean and American analysts and officials had also believed that a nuclear test was possible on this important anniversary.
The anniversary celebrations came three weeks after North Korea staged its biggest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile test – the first time Kim’s most powerful weapon has been fired at full range since 2017. .
Towards a seventh try?
This test marked the end of a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear testing. Long-range and nuclear tests were suspended after Kim met with then-US President Donald Trump. Officials and analysts say North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.
Satellite imagery has shown signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which North Korea says was demolished in 2018 ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit.
North Korea has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006 and touted the success of its latest and most powerful in 2017 – a hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons. With a new nuclear test, experts believe Pyongyang will seek to miniaturize the nuclear warheads to be mounted on its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
South Korean officials have said Pyongyang could still hold a military parade or carry out a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. This anniversary coincides with the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which are due to begin on Monday.