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Coming Soon: North Korean Tactical Nuclear Weapons?

North Korea Hwasong-17 ICBM. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
North Korea Hwasong-17 ICBM. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

A North Korean Tactical Nuclear Weapons: How Much of a Threat?Kim Jong Un observed the test-firing of a new weapons system aimed at boosting North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, state media said on Sunday, per The Guardian.

“The new-type tactical guided weapon system … is of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, Reuters reported.

The test was a success, according to North Korea.

Kim “gave important instructions on further building up the country’s defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces” to a North Korean military research team, the KCNA said.

South Korea’s military confirmed on Sunday that it had detected the launch of two projectiles on Saturday evening from North Korea’s east coast towards the sea, Reuters reported.

The weapon being tested appears to be North Korea’s first tactical nuclear-weapons delivery system, according to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Ankit Panda, per Reuters.

Recent satellite images of  North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test sites, which North Korea claimed to have demolished in 2018, are showing signs of new activity, The Guardian said.

“You don’t have to be particularly imaginative to put this two and two together,” Panda said, Reuters reported.

This test-fire comes weeks after North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to South Korea, which would have broken Pyongyang’s self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear tests.

It also coincides with upcoming joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, due to begin on Monday.

Pyongyang has accused the US of hostile policies, citing the upcoming joint military exercises and sanctions.

Joshua Zitser is a Senior News Reporter at Insider’s London office. His writing has also appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator, Independent, WIRED, and more. Joshua’s podcast documentary, “Handed Down: A Look Into Transgenerational Trauma,” was nominated for a Mind Media Award and an IRN Award.

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Joshua Zitser is a Senior News Reporter at Insider's London office.