Pyongyang carried out nuclear counterstrike exercise: KCNA

Update 1: Adds details about photos released by KCNA

Seoul, Mar 20 (EFE).- North Korea carried out a nuclear counterattack exercise over the weekend with the aim of sending a “stronger warning” to Seoul and Washington, which are carrying out their combined large-scale military drills.

“There took place on March 18 and 19 a combined tactical drill to substantially bolster the country’s war deterrence and nuclear counterattack capability,” the state news agency KCNA reported Monday.

The exercise, which was attended by leader Kim Jong-un, simulated “a nuclear counterattack by the units for the operation of tactical nukes (which was ) was carried out under the tense situation in which a large-scale war drill is being frantically scaled up by the US-South Korean allied forces to invade the DPRK and US nuclear strategic assets are massively brought to South Korea,” it said.

On Sunday, two Pentagon strategic bombers carried out exercises with US and South Korean fighter jets over the peninsula as part of the Freedom Shield spring combined maneuvers, and came after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday and another that appeared to be a short-range missile on Sunday.

“The drill also aimed to demonstrate our tougher will to make an actual war response and send a stronger warning to the enemy who expand their war drills for aggression,” KCNA added.

North Korea has repeatedly warned that it would respond forcefully to the Freedom Shield exercises, which began on Mar. 13 and will run until the 23rd.

KCNA said that the two-day exercise was divided into an “exercise for managing the nuclear strike control system” and “a drill for launching tactical ballistic missile tipped with a mock nuclear warhead,” which was held on Sunday.

The tactical ballistic missile, the launch of which was detected and reported Sunday by the South Korean military, was fired from North Pyongan, near the Sohae space launch center, and “accurately exploded at 800 meters above the target waters in the East Sea of Korea (Yellow Sea) set in its 800 km strike range, thus proving once again the reliability of the operation of nuclear explosion control devices and detonators fitted in the nuclear warhead,” KCNA said.

Kim, whose photos released by KCNA show him watching the exercises with his daughter, reportedly expressed satisfaction at the drill.

Leader Kim Jong-un, whose photos released by the KCNA show him watching the exercises with his daughter, said he was very pleased with the results.

A North Korean officer also appears next to Kim, whose face has been purposely blurred so that it is not recognizable.

The man also wears a mask and sunglasses, in a gesture possibly intended to prevent him from being identified to avoid being included on lists of individuals subject to financial sanctions for his relationship with the North Korean nuclear and missile program. EFE


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