North Korea Conducts ‘Drills Simulating Nuclear Counterattack’

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program in Seoul on Sunday.

SEOUL — North Korea conducted military drills simulating a nuclear counterattack over the weekend, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Monday.

According to KCNA, the military’s tactical nuclear operation unit began the two-day exercise on Saturday and test-fired a ballistic missile on Sunday — likely the projectile that fell in the Sea of Japan the same day. The report indicates that Pyongyang was demonstrating its nuclear capability in response to joint military drills conducted by the United States and South Korea from March 13.

KCNA said that a series of drills, which were overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, were conducted to confirm such procedures as a military unit receiving an order on Saturday to launch a nuclear strike and the execution of the attack the following day.

According to the news agency, the missile, which was launched from Cholsan County in North Pyongan Province, carried a mock nuclear warhead that flew 800 kilometers eastward before detonating, precisely as planned, 800 meters above the Sea of Japan.

KCNA said the drills reaffirmed the operational reliability of the equipment and the nuclear warhead’s detonation control system.

Kim was quoted by the news agency as saying that possessing nuclear weapons alone cannot deter war. He also said that the North can only fulfill its grave strategic mission of deterring war by having a fully prepared nuclear strike posture capable of operating quickly and accurately at any time.

Apparently with the U.S.-South Korea exercises in mind, Kim also reportedly said that enemies were accelerating aggressive moves against North Korea day by day and stated his intention to enhance Pyongyang’s nuclear capability, mentioning challenges in preparing for war.

During the missile test, Kim was reportedly accompanied by a girl, thought to be his daughter Ju Ae.