North Korean Leader Leads Rocket Drills

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) overseeing a simulated nuclear counterattack drill at an undisclosed location, North Korea, 22 April 2024 (issued 23 April 2024). EPA/KCNA
A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) overseeing a simulated nuclear counterattack drill at an undisclosed location, North Korea, 22 April 2024 (issued 23 April 2024). EPA/KCNA
TT

North Korean Leader Leads Rocket Drills

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) overseeing a simulated nuclear counterattack drill at an undisclosed location, North Korea, 22 April 2024 (issued 23 April 2024). EPA/KCNA
A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) overseeing a simulated nuclear counterattack drill at an undisclosed location, North Korea, 22 April 2024 (issued 23 April 2024). EPA/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised salvo launches of the country’s “super-large” multiple rocket launchers that simulated a nuclear counterattack against enemy targets, state media said Tuesday.

The report by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency came a day after the South Korean and Japanese militaries detected the North firing what they suspected were multiple short-range ballistic missiles from a region near its capital, Pyongyang, toward its eastern seas.

Analysts say North Korea’s large-sized artillery rockets blur the boundary between artillery systems and ballistic missiles because they can create their own thrust and are guided during delivery. The North has described some of these systems, including the 600mm multiple rocket launchers that were tested Monday, as capable of delivering tactical nuclear warheads.

KCNA said Monday’s launches represented the first demonstration of the country’s nuclear-weapons management and control system called “Haekbangashoe,” or “nuclear trigger.” The report described the drill as aimed at demonstrating the strength and diverse attack means of North Korea’s nuclear forces amid deepening tensions with the United States and South Korea, which it portrayed as “warmongers” raising tensions in the region with their combined military exercises.

State media photos showed at least four rockets being fired from launch vehicles as Kim watched from an observation post. It said the rockets flew 352 kilometers (218 miles) before accurately hitting an island target and that the drill verified the reliability of the “system of command, management, control and operation of the whole nuclear force.”

KCNA said Kim expressed satisfaction, saying that the multiple rocket launchers were as accurate as a “sniper’s rifle.”
He said the drill was crucial for “preparing our nuclear force to be able to rapidly and correctly carry out their important mission of deterring a war and taking the initiative in a war in any time and any sudden situation.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons from Monday’s launches flew about 300 kilometers (185 miles) before crashing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The ranges suggested the weapons would likely target sites in South Korea.

The latest launches came as South and the United States have been conducting a two-week combined aerial exercise that continues through Friday aimed at sharpening their response capabilities against North Korean threats.



Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
TT

Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)

China's military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react quickly, Taiwan's top security official said on Wednesday.
China said it carried out the two days of war games starting Thursday as "punishment" for new President Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech last week, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries, Reuters said.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.
Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China's drills was not to go to war.
"The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate," he said.
The drills were meant to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing "has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait", Tsai added.
Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.
The drills were a "just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", she said.
"As Taiwan's provocations for independence continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue."
The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists who set up the People's Republic of China.
China says any decisions on Taiwan's future are for all of China's 1.4 billion people to make, not only Taiwan's 23 million, and has offered a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" autonomy model, though that has almost no public support on the island, according to opinion polls.
"Different systems are not an obstacle to reunification, let alone an excuse for separation," Zhu said.
China has never explained how it would integrate Taiwan's vibrant democracy and direct election of its leaders into any plan to govern the island.
China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.
But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai's bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.
"The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait's status quo," it said.
Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilized almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.
"The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilization capabilities," he said.