North Korea continued its provocations launching two long-range cruise missiles nine months after its previous test firing. It announced that the missiles were deployed to its army for the operation of tactical nukes.
On Thursday, the state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the missiles, which were launched the previous day at Gaechon, South Pyongan Province, flew over 10,234 seconds along an oval and patter-8 flight orbit in the sky above the West Sea of Korea to target 2,000 kilometers away clearly.” It was the longest record among the three rounds of a testing spree of what the North claimed to be long-range cruise missiles.
Some are voicing concerns that North Korea will soon finish a test on its miniature nuclear warhead in a seventh nuclear test after checking the operation of tactical nuclear weapons. In that case, the North is likely to enter the final phase of developing and operating tactical nukes. “Our military is maintaining a readiness posture by closely monitoring the situation in North Korea in real-time,” the South Korean Presidential Office said. “We will sternly respond to North Korea’s continued provocations with our overwhelming forces.”
As North Korea’s nuclear menace is becoming an increasingly real threat, various response measures are on the discussion table in the South, ranging from strengthening the South Korea-U.S. extended deterrence to arming itself with nuclear weapons.
When asked about sharing tactical nuclear weapons with the U.S., South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said, “With various opinions being raised in South Korea and the U.S. over the extended deterrence, we are now listening and thoroughly studying various possibilities.” It was a further elaborated comment from his previous remarks on Tuesday, “We are listening and considering diverse opinions from Korea and the U.S.”
“All measures and options of enhancing the extended deterrence are being discussed and explored to address all possible scenarios,” said an official from the Presidential Office in a press briefing. The comment shows that as the North’s seventh nuclear test means it is pursuing nuclear capability at another level, the South’s response should be different accordingly.
The U.S. said it would boost its extended deterrence against North Korea’s threats. “It will make tangible progress toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while strengthening extended deterrence in the face of North Korean weapons of mass destruction and missile threats,” the U.S. National Security Council stated in its National Security Strategy on Wednesday.
Kwan-Seok Jang firstname.lastname@example.org · Jin-Woo Shin email@example.com