North Korea said on Monday that the launch of a ballistic missile the previous day was part of a tactical drill focused on a nuclear counterattack.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said a comprehensive exercise on a counterattack by tactical nuclear operations units were carried out on Saturday and Sunday with the attendance of regime leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter, Ju-ae.
The KCNA said that the first day of the drill comprised various reinspections of the command, management, control and operations of the tactical nuclear force, while the second day involved a simulated nuclear attack on a major enemy target with a launch drill.
Calling the projectile a "tactical ballistic missile," the outlet claimed it flew 800 kilometers and exploded in the air 800 meters above the target in the East Sea precisely as planned.
According to the KCNA, Kim said that “the fact” that the North owns nuclear weapons does not guarantee war deterrence and stressed the need to be fully ready to swiftly and accurately launch a nuclear attack.
The outlet stressed that the drill was performed amid the expansion of joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that it detected the launch of a short-range ballistic missile toward the East Sea from the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan Province on the North's west coast at 11:05 a.m.
North Korea earlier test-fired what it claimed were two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine last Sunday, a day before the ongoing South Korea-U.S. combined Freedom Shield military exercises kicked off, followed by the launch of two short-range missiles on Tuesday.