People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 19 March 2023. EFE/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

North Korea says conducted nuclear counterstrike drill

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.

A Chinook helicopter carries a M777 howitzer during a field artillery battalion gun raid exercise as a part of the joint Freedom Shield (FS) exercise with South Korean soldiers at at Rodriguez Range in Pocheon, South Korea, 19 March 2023. EFE/EPA/Chung Sung-Jun / POOL

“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.

People watch the news at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 19 March 2023. EFE/EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN

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. EFE