North Korea’s latest nuclear test, which the Government-run official news site KCNA deemed ‘a complete success’, has sparked a new wave of retaliatory military moves in the region.
In response to the test, South Korea conducted a live-fire exercise on Monday, simulating a full-scale attack on one of North Korea’s main nuclear test sites.
The drill took place after North Korea reportedly set off a nuclear device on Sunday last, an act carried out in blatant defiance of UN-imposed sanctions.
The event, which was independently verified, involved a “two-stage thermonuclear weapon” with a yield of about 100 kilotons. North Korea claims that the warhead was small enough to be transported inside an Intercontinenal Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The two-stage weapons signifies a major advancement in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
In the immediate aftermath of the test -the first since Donald Trump took office-, South Korea has authorized the deployment of four additional THAAD launchers at a site some 300 kilometers south of Seoul. THAAD batteries are mobile weapon platforms that target incoming missiles in their terminal approach. THAAD rockets have no warhead, relying on sheer kinetic energy instead to destroy an incoming missile before it reaches its intended target. A kinetic impact minimizes the chances of detonating conventional weaponry, and a nuclear warhead will not explode after a kinetic strike.
Also, the US has entered talks with South Korea about deploying ‘strategic assets’ to the region, in the form of aircraft carriers, long-range bombers, and special ops personnel.
It is also suspected that North Korea may be preparing to conduct yet another missile test on Saturday, which marks one of the country’s major holidays. Pyongyang favors displays of military might during marked ocassions.
Meanwhile, the war of words between the US and North Korea, after US President Donald Trump branded the country a ‘rogue nation and a threat.’