North Korea Insists Attacks Were Simulated, as South Finds Missile Pieces

North Korea Insists Attacks Were Simulated: North Korea stated its latest missile launches were simulated strikes on South Korea and the U.S. during a “dangerous war practice,” while the South said it had retrieved North Korean missile pieces near its coast.

An Overview of North Korea’s Claims That the Attacks on It Were Simulated

North Korea’s military stated its latest missile tests were rehearsals to “mercilessly” hit South Korean and U.S. targets with nuclear-capable rockets. Kim Jong Un’s declaration showed he won’t back down from his rivals’ demand to intensify military drills. Some analysts think Kim intends to exploit the drills to update his nuclear weapons and improve his leverage with Washington and Seoul.

North Korea launched dozens of missiles and flew airplanes into the sea last week to protest U.S.-South Korean air force maneuvers it perceives as an invasion rehearsal. U.S. and South Korean officials said they’d increase cooperative training and warned the North that using nuclear weapons would terminate Kim’s rule.

The General Staff of North Korea’s military warned in a statement released by official media that the more persistent the adversaries’ military efforts, the more comprehensively and savagely the KPA will fight them. It said the tests involved ballistic missiles loaded with dispersion and underground infiltration warheads to strike 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 80 kilometers (50 miles) off South Korea’s southeastern coastal city of Ulsan.

The North’s military said it tested a ballistic missile with a special warhead to “paralyze the enemy’s operating command system.” It stated it fired super-large and tactical ballistic missiles. It didn’t address Thursday’s purported launch of an ICBM targeted at the U.S. mainland. Most other North Korean missiles launched this week were short-range, nuclear-capable weapons. They put South Korean military targets, including U.S. sites, within range.

North Korea Insists Attacks Were Simulated
“The KPA General Staff reiterates that it will continue to respond to enemy anti-(North Korea) war games with prolonged, determined, and overwhelming military measures,” it stated. South Korea’s military denied North Korea’s missile launch claims Monday. South Korea didn’t detect the North’s cruise missile launches, and North Korea didn’t indicate an atypical ICBM flight, said spokesperson Kim Jun-rak.

This year’s “Vigilant Storm” air force training was the largest ever. 240 airplanes from both nations participated, including F-35s. In response to North Korea’s missile testing, the allies extended the drills by one day. On Saturday, the penultimate day of the air force drills, the U.S. flew two B-1B supersonic bombers over South Korea in a demonstration of might against North Korea, the aircraft’s first such flyover since December 2017.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the B-1Bs’ involvement showed the allies’ preparedness to “sternly respond” to North Korean provocations and the U.S. commitment to defend its partner with all of its military weapons, including nuclear.

After their annual meeting Thursday in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup issued a joint statement condemning the North’s launches and warning that any nuclear attacks against the U.S. or its allies and partners “is unacceptable and will end the Kim regime.” South Korea’s military cautioned the North that unleashing nuclear weapons would be “self-destructive.”

Both military chiefs agreed to increase cooperative drills and training to prepare for North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

North Korea test-launched a barrage of missiles in what it said simulated nuclear strikes on U.S. and South Korean targets in protest of its rivals’ other military exercises that engaged a U.S. aircraft for the first time in five years. North Korea approved new legislation in September enabling the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.

South Korean and U.S. officials insist their drills are defensive and they have no plans to invade North Korea.

Since the May inauguration of conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has pledged to be harsher on North Korea, U.S. and South Korean military drills have increased. Some partners’ drills had been shortened or canceled to assist North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy or the COVID-19 epidemic.

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