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PoliticsWorldNorth Korea openly declares hostility towards US, South Korea

North Korea openly declares hostility towards US, South Korea

North Korea deployed 500 odd jets, fired hundreds of shells into the sea and launched dozens of rockets, testing them for use against the US and South Korea

The recent string of missile tests by North Korea, Pyongyang has said, was part of an exercise simulating attacks on South Korean and American targets using a variety of munitions, including nuclear-capable weapons. The army of the communist dictatorship said via state media channels that the missile launches were a response to Seoul and Washington’s ‘Vigilant Storm’ joint air drills, which took place between 31 October and 5 November.

The military described these “largest-ever-scale” exercises by the US and South Korea as an “open provocative act of intentionally aggravating tension in the region” and “a dangerous war drill” specifically targeted against North Korea. The Korean People’s Army General Staff said that it could not overlook the “aggressive nature” of the exercise and carried out its own show of force.

‘Tit for tat,’ North Korea seems to say

“The recent corresponding military operations by the Korean People’s Army are a clear answer of (North Korea) that the more persistently the enemies’ provocative military moves continue, the more thoroughly and mercilessly the KPA will counter them,” the General Staff of North Korea’s military said in a statement carried by state media.

It said the weapons tests involved ballistic missiles loaded with dispersion warheads and underground infiltration warheads meant to launch strikes on enemy air bases; ground-to-air missiles designed to “annihilate” enemy aircraft at different altitudes and distances, and strategic cruise missiles that fell in international waters about 80 km off South Korea’s southeastern coastal city of Ulsan.

North Korea’s military said it also carried out an important test of a ballistic missile with a special functional warhead missioned with “paralysing the operation command system of the enemy”. This could mean a simulation of electromagnetic pulse attacks, but some observers doubt whether North Korea has mastered key technologies to obtain such an attack capability.

Between 2 and 5 November, North Korea claimed to have deployed about 500 fighter jets and fired hundreds of rounds of artillery shells into the sea and launched several dozen rockets, including short-range tactical ballistic missiles loaded with warheads for “dispersion and underground infiltration” — some of which reportedly landed on an uninhabited island.

The announcement by North Korea underscored leader Kim Jong un’s determination not to back down in the face of his rivals’ push to expand their military exercises, but some experts say Kim used the drills additionally as an excuse to modernise his nuclear arsenal and increase his leverage in future dealings with Washington and Seoul.

North Korea said these drills were meant to simulate an attack on an enemy air base, on hostile aircraft, as well as on a major South Korean city, in order to “smash the continued frenzy of war provocations of the enemy.”

The ‘Vigilant Storm’ by the US and South Korea this year involved 240 odd military aircraft. It became the largest drill of their kind so far, according to the US Air Force. The joint exercise was initially scheduled to go on till 4 November but was extended for an additional day, sparking fierce protest from Pyongyang, which called the decision “an irrevocable and awful mistake.”

North Korea’s military statement did not explicitly mention a reported launch last Thursday of an intercontinental ballistic missile aimed at hitting the US mainland, though its main newspaper published a photo of an ICBM-like weapon as one that was used during last week’s testing activities.

Some experts say many other North Korean missiles launched last week were short-range nuclear-capable weapons that place key military targets in South Korea, including US military bases there, within striking range.

The US and South Korean officials responded to the jingoistic declaration by North Korea that they would further enhance their joint training events and warned Pyongyang that the use of nuclear weapons would end Kim Jong un’s regime.

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