North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a test of strategic cruise missiles, according to state media KCNA. The test took place as South Korea and the United States began their annual military drills, known as the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises. Kim visited a navy fleet stationed on the east coast to oversee the test aboard a warship, although the specific date was not mentioned.
The purpose of the launch was to verify the combat function of the ship and its missile system, as well as to improve the sailors' capability to carry out an attack mission in actual war. The ship's missile successfully hit its target, demonstrating its high mobility, mighty striking power, and constant preparedness for combat, as highlighted by Kim.
South Korea's defense ministry acknowledged signs of the launch but criticized the claims made by KCNA, stating that they were exaggerated and different from the facts, without providing further details.
The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises, which aim to enhance joint responses to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, started on the same day as the missile test. North Korea has consistently denounced these drills as a rehearsal for nuclear war.
According to South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, this year's exercises will be conducted on the largest scale ever, involving tens of thousands of troops from both sides, as well as some member states of the U.N. Command. The drills will cover various contingency scenarios, including cyber, terror, and drone attacks, as well as a disinformation campaign from North Korea. President Yoon emphasized the need for overwhelming force to preserve true peace and vowed immediate and overwhelming retaliation for any provocations from North Korea.
South Korean lawmakers warned that North Korea might test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile or take other military action in protest against the drills or the recent summit between South Korea, the United States, and Japan. North Korea has been testing what it calls "strategic cruise missiles" for the past two years, and some analysts believe these missiles could be tipped with nuclear warheads. In March, North Korea also showcased a new nuclear-capable underwater attack drone, further highlighting its efforts to modernize and bolster its naval power.
During his visit to the navy fleet, Kim pledged to reinforce the navy's combat efficiency and capabilities for both offensive and defensive surface and underwater operations. He expressed the intention to modernize naval weapons and equipment, including the construction of powerful warships and the development of shipboard and underwater weapon systems.
themes: Military War