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N. Korea conducts tactical nuclear attack drill

Posted March. 21, 2023 07:48,   

Updated March. 21, 2023 07:48


North Korea has been confirmed to have conducted an explosion test of a short-range ballistic missile tipped with a mock nuclear warhead targeted to launch an attack on the Korean peninsula on Sunday. The missile, KN-23, exploded 800 meters in midair, which is known as the optimal height to maximize killing power and capable of targeting the entire peninsula. North Korea said the test was a comprehensive virtual tactics exercise for a counter-nuclear attack toward key enemy targets. Exploding nuclear warhead missiles in the air is a typical type of nuclear attack.

The North Korean public media released a clip of the missile firing carried out at Dongchang-ri, North Pyongan province, claiming that “a comprehensive tactics exercise to promote skills required for tactical nuclear attack process was held for two days starting on March 18”. North Korea stressed that the missile exploded as planned, 800 meters midair of the East Sea, which proved the credibility of the nuclear explosion controlling device and detonator. “800 meters in mid-air is the altitude where North Korea’s KN-23 can maximize its casualty radius.” Said Lee Sang Min, head of the North Korean Military Research office at the Korea Institute of Defense Analysis.

Experts’ views vary on the extent of tactical nuclear weapons tipped on North Korea’s KN-23 missile. The majority view that it would at least be 10 kilotons, based on nuclear warheads unveiled by the North so far. According to Nukemap, an interactive map that provides simulations of the impact of nuclear weapon explosions, the explosion of a nuclear weapon of 10 kilotons in 800 meters mid-air in Seoul would immediately kill 44,000 and injure 300,000 people. Some experts say that nuclear weapons that would be most powerful in 800 meters mid-air are those of at least 60 kilotons, which would leave 237,000 dead and 770,000 people injured.

“We should be perfectly equipped with nuclear-attacking abilities that we can mobilize accurately and quickly to threaten our enemies,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said, watching the explosion with his daughter, Joo Ae. “The current situation requires us to exponentially increase our nuclear deterrent force.”

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com · Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com