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Meticulous joint military exercise to dampen N. Korea's war ambition

Meticulous joint military exercise to dampen N. Korea's war ambition

Posted March. 25, 2023 07:58,   

Updated March. 25, 2023 07:58


North Korea announced that it successfully tested its new unmanned nuclear underwater vehicle. North Korean state media reported on Friday that its unmanned underwater vehicle for nuclear attack traveled undetected in oval and eight-shaped routes for 59 hours between 80 and 150 meters underwater. The media added that the vehicle reached the mock port of the enemy and exploded the mock nuclear warhead underwater.

The North also noted that it fired four strategic cruise missiles and exploded them in the air at an altitude of 600 meters. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that his nation should bolster nuclear war deterrence exponentially and show that to the enemy. The provocation aimed at the West Sea Defense Day that South Korea commemorates every year to pay tribute to the deceased service members, including sailors killed aboard the corvette Cheonan in an attack blamed on the North.

The underwater nuclear weapons test by the North this time around can be called as the ultimate diversification of its nuclear weapons attack. Dubbed by the regime as a "secret weapon," the underwater nuclear vehicle appears to mimic the Russian nuclear-powered torpedo Poseidon, which can travel underwater in stealth and trigger giant radioactive tsunami waves through an underwater explosion. Russia recently threatened the Western countries that it might deploy its nuclear submarine equipped with Poseidon after suffering setbacks in the war in Ukraine.

North Korea diversified its firing equipment and locations by testing multiple ballistic and cruise missiles with various ranges, utilizing transporter erector launchers (TEL), trains, submarines, reservoirs, and even underground hangars. It also varied hitting methods, testing explosions in the air and underwater. Though the technical competency or actual capability of its weapons still needs to be verified, the regime clearly attempts to mock South Korea and the U.S. by show of force with formidably destructive missiles that can avoid detection or interception.

On top of that, North Korean missile tests were all the more lavishly conducted during the large-scale joint military exercise Freedom Shield (FS) between South Korea and the U.S. The North boldly launched short-range, close-range, and long-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM), and even nuclear torpedoes, seemingly not even concerned about the massive deployment of U.S. strategic military assets on the Korean Peninsula. It is hard to deny that North Korea is fearless and arrogant with its nuclear capabilities and programs.

However, considering the versatile counterattack history of South Korea-U.S. military cooperation overarching both nuclear and conventional weapons as well as missile defense systems, North Korean provocation that brings forward nuclear programs only may be nothing more than blackmail and ultimately self-destruction. The FS is the first joint exercise to apply a new combat operation plan replacing the traditional OPLAN 5015. North Korean provocations offered us a chance to verify and reinforce in detail the new joint operation plan that covers responses per scenario, including North Korean nuclear monitoring, detection of potential nuclear use, and immediate counterattack upon assault.