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.’
The situation in the Korean Peninsula may soon reach the point of no return, as North Korea has conducted yet another nuclear test, its sixth.
The device detonated is understood to be a hydrogen warhead, small enough to be fitted into an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The explosion caused a 6.3-magnitude quake in the country’s north-eastern region.
KCNA, North Korea’s official mouthpiece, has deemed the test ‘a complete success’.
This latest test marks a rapid escalation in the region, making an already tense situation that much more unstable.
International reaction has been swift, with Japan, South Korea -countries within reach of North Korea’s military reach- issuing strong statements calling for the ‘complete isolation’ of North Korea.
The US Administration has not yet issued any response to the event.
The drums of war keep getting louder around the Korean Peninsula, as tensions mount between all sides.
The latest missile launch by North Korea has been answered by a simulated bombing raid by its southern foe.
The exercise, ordered by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, called for a squadron of F15-K to drop MK84 ordnance on practice targets on a shooting range sited near the border.
The -K variant of the F15 series is specifically manufactured for the South Korean Air Force by Boeing. It can carry almost 14 tons worth of weapons, including the MK84 multi-purpose bomb.
Second only in size to the largest Daisy Cutter weapon, the MK84 -deemed ‘the Hammer’ by F-117 pilots who dropped it during the First Gulf War- the MK84 delivers over 400kg of explosive power to the target.
The bombing drill was intended as a show of ‘overwhelming force’ to the Pyongyang regime.
The move comes hours after North Korea conducted another test missile launch. The weapon, believed to be a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, flew over the northern Japanese territory of Hokkaido and triggered a planned response. Air-raid sirens blared, trains stopped, and people received text messages urging them to seek shelter immediately.
The missile is believed to have experienced a mid-flight malfunction and splashed down on Japanese waters.
The move marks a dangerous escalation in the ongoing conflict involving North Korea and the US’s allies in the area, South Korea and Japan.
The US is set to reinforce its military deployment in South Korea, as it plans to send 16 extra F-16 fighter jets and 200 military personnel to Kunsan Air Base, some 180km south of Seoul.
The four-month long deployment comes in the wake of heightened tensions in the area, prompted by a string of missile tests by North Korea.
South Korea and the US have been conducting joined military exercises in recent days, in a clear show of force to the Pyongyang regime.
The exercises called for two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers to fly over South Korean airspace.
The Rockwell B-1B is a heavy, long-range bomber, and one of the cornerstones of the US’ strategic bombing fleet, along with the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.
The aircraft carries the largest payload in the entire US Air Force, and first saw action in 1998.