North Korea carried out the test firing of a new weapons system overseen by the nation's leader Kim Jong-Un. This new type of tactical guided weapon claims to improve the nuclear fighting capability of the country.
The official Korean Central News Agency reported that the launch was successful but gave no confirmation as to when the test had happened. Only pictures captured by the North Korean Newspaper Rodong Sinmun serve as proof of the test-firing. It showed leader Kim surrounded by uniformed officials applauding as he watched the launch.
The KCNA further added that the weapon tested has "great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units, enhancing the efficiency in the operation of (North Korea's) tactical nukes of and diversification of their firepower missions."
No elaboration regarding the launch, led the military experts to deduce the mention of the word "tactical nukes" themselves, suggesting that it is expected to carry a battlefield nuclear warhead that could target strategic locations in South Korea, including US military installations.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul says, "North Korea is trying to deploy not only long-range nuclear missiles aimed at American cities but also tactical nuclear weapons to threaten Seoul and US bases in Asia. Pyongyang's purposes likely exceed deterrence and regime survival. Like Russia employs the fear it could use tactical nukes, North Korea may want such weapons for political coercion, battlefield escalation and limiting the willingness of other countries to intervene in a conflict."
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff detected two projectile launches from the North Korea's eastern coastal town of Hamhung early Saturday evening, in a statement released on Sunday.
South Korea's presidential office said officials have met two times this weekend to talk about the North Korean military activities. According to them the projectiles flew about 110 kilometers (68 miles) at an apogee of 25 kilometers (16 miles) and at a maximum speed of Mach 4. The statement also included that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities are currently analyzing additional details of the tests.
Hamhung is also referred to as North Korea's Special Weapons Facilities and has been the site where the country has conducted almost all six of its nuclear tests. It was claimed to be demolished by the country in 2018 due to the nuclear talks going on between US and North Korea, however the talks collapsed.
In March a commercial satellite captured images that displayed signs of new activity at the nuclear testing ground. South Korean military also has detected movement the partially dismantled tunnels. The US officials and South Korean analysts believe that Pyongyang could very soon conduct its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks, it can be another ICBM test or even a spy satellite launch.
On Friday, Pyongyang celebrated the 110th birth anniversary of late founder Kim Il Sung, the biggest public holiday of the country, without any military parade and hence the South Korean officials believe that on 25 April, the founding anniversary of North Korea's army, leader Kim may carry out a new weapons test on or around the date while staging a military parade.
The anniversary coincides with the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which are due to begin on Monday.