North Korea: Kim wants to increase production of "military nuclear material"

North Korea's No

North Korea: Kim wants to increase production of "military nuclear material"

North Korea's No. 1 Kim Jong Un has called for increased production of "military nuclear material" while unveiling what appears to be a new type of downsized tactical nuclear warhead, state media reported on Tuesday.

Photos released by the media show the leader surrounded by uniformed officers, inspecting a row of what appear to be tactical nuclear warheads, identified as "Hwasan-31" (volcano in Korean).

According to charts and diagrams posted on the walls, these warheads could be mounted on different types of missiles.

After speaking with officials from the country's nuclear weapons institute, the leader said North Korea must prepare to use its nuclear weapons 'anywhere and anytime', according to the agency official KCNA. He also “encouraged the continued production of powerful nuclear weapons,” KCNA added.

When the country has "perfectly" prepared its nuclear weapons systems, "the enemy will fear us and dare not challenge the sovereignty of our state, our system and our people," Kim said, according to the statement. same source.

The threat comes as a US Navy aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea on Tuesday.

Relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest in years, with Seoul and Washington stepping up joint military maneuvers while Pyongyang carries out increasingly provocative weapons tests.

Last year, North Korea declared itself an "irreversible" nuclear power and Mr Kim recently called for an "exponential" increase in the production of weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons.

The publication of several nuclear-related reports by state media on Tuesday seemed to indicate that the country was preparing for a seventh nuclear test, analysts said.

For Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, the hard line adopted by Pyongyang "probably aims to justify its weapons tests and a nuclear test in the future".

Pyongyang "has unveiled a dramatically miniaturized tactical nuclear warhead and many are wondering if it can actually explode," he told AFP. "The possibility that as a next step North Korea will conduct a seventh nuclear test with these tactical nuclear warheads has increased."

North Korea has warned of its "overwhelming response to every joint training between South Korea and the United States, but given the number of missiles fired, it cannot continue like this indefinitely", said Park Won-gon , a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

"If so, the seventh nuclear test will mark a kind of end, they will declare themselves a nuclear power and turn to negotiation with the United States," he added.

North Korea's military said on Tuesday it had carried out a second test of what it described as an "underwater nuclear attack drone", the first test of which took place last week.

The new weapon, called Haeil (tsunami in Korean), was first tested, according to Pyongyang, in response to recent US-South Korean military drills, the largest in five years.

But Seoul said it was "examining the possibility that this claim is exaggerated and fabricated."

Pyongyang, however, claimed on Tuesday that Haeil maneuvered underwater "for 41 hours and 27 minutes following a simulated route of 600 kilometers" before exploding on a target off North Hamgyong province early Monday, according to KCNA. .

The test "demonstrated all strategic qualifications as well as the security and reliability of the weapons system", according to KCNA.

Russia has reportedly developed a similar weapon, the Poseidon nuclear torpedo, but mastering the complex technology required for this type of weaponry is still beyond Pyongyang's reach, experts say.

The North Korean military also conducted a firing exercise on Monday, simulating a nuclear attack using tactical ballistic missiles, the KCNA news agency said in a separate statement.

"North Korea sends a very consistent message. It seeks recognition as a perfect nuclear power," Park said.

28/03/2023 10:51:44 - Seoul (AFP) © 2023 AFP