Pyongyang calls missile tests nuclear warning to U.S., South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has personally overseen Pyongyang's recent spate of missile launches that were "tactical nuclear" drills that represented an "obvious warning" to the U.S. and South Korea, state media reported Monday.
The big picture: The statement, released on the 77th anniversary of the foundation of Pyongyang's ruling Workers' Party, claimed the North Korean drills staged "the simulation of an actual war" while also responding to U.S.-South Korean exercises in recent weeks, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
By the numbers: North Korea's military has conducted seven missile tests since Sept. 25, the most recent on Sunday when two ballistic missiles landed outside the Japanese exclusive economic zone, per Reuters.
Worth noting: The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that Pyongyang's latest launch "does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies."
- Instead, it highlighted the "destabilizing impact" of Pyongyang's unlawful weapons programs, the statement noted.
- "The U.S. commitments to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad."
Between the lines: "North Korea has multiple motivations for publishing a high-profile missile story now," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul," per AP.
- Easley said Kim's public appearance after a month-long absence "provides a patriotic headline" on the Workers' Party anniversary, while Pyongyang "has been concerned about military exercises by the U.S., South Korea and Japan."
- So "to strengthen its self-proclaimed deterrent, it is making explicit the nuclear threat behind its recent missile launches," Easley noted.
- "The KCNA report may also be a harbinger of a forthcoming nuclear test for the kind of tactical warhead that would arm the units Kim visited in the field."