Kim Jong Un says North Korea is at 'full preparedness for actual war' and boasts 'tactical nuke' cruise missiles have been deployed to multiple military units
- North Korea tested two long-range cruise missiles on Wednesday that flew 1,270 miles into the Yellow Sea
- Rockets airborne for three hours, drawing oval and figure eight patterns before hitting targets, North said
- Kim Jong Un oversaw the tests, saying afterwards that it shows nuclear forces are 'prepared for actual war'
- Kim also attended 75th anniversary celebrations for two of country's most elite schools and met students
PUBLISHED: 09:24 AEDT, 13 October 2022 | UPDATED: 18:21 AEDT, 13 October 2022
North Korea is 'at full preparedness for actual war' after testing two long-range cruise missiles on Wednesday which have already been dispatched to tactical nuclear units, Kim Jong Un has said.
The missiles - which are designed to travel at a lower altitude than ballistic rockets, making them harder to track and shoot down - flew 1,240 miles out over the Yellow Sea Wednesday, drawing oval and figure eight patterns in the skies for almost three hours before slamming into targets, the Korean Central News Agency said.
Kim personally oversaw the tests as images showed him applauding inside a tunnel with his cronies, a cigarette in his right hand. Kim 'highly appreciated' the test, state media said afterwards, which showed North Korea's nuclear forces are at 'full preparedness for actual war' and sent a 'clear warning to the enemies.'
He was then pictured celebrating the 75th anniversary of two elite North Korean schools - initially established to educate the children of those who died in the revolution, and which today function as training grounds for the next generation of the country's political class.
North Korea on Wednesday tested two long-range cruise missiles (left) which Kim Jong Un (right) said demonstrated that his nuclear forces are at 'full preparedness for actual war'
Kim is pictured overseeing the cruise missile test alongside his top officials, applauding with what appears to be a cigarette in his right hand as the weapons hit their targets
South Koreans wake up to the news that their northern neighbour has tested two cruise missiles which the regime claims are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons
'The schools have brought up a large contingent of indomitable revolutionaries and patriotic loyalists,' state media said of the ceremony which included music, floral gifts for Kim, and a speech by the so-called Supreme Leader.
Wednesday's missile tests were the latest in a quick-fire string of launches that North Korea has said are dress rehearsals for nuclear strikes on South Korea in the event war breaks out.
Kim appears to be capitalising on the Ukraine war - which has tied up the UN and its sanctioning body - to carry out tests of weapons that would typically have drawn retaliatory measures.
Though North Korea is not technically forbidden from testing cruise missiles, it has also tested a flurry of ballistic rockets in recent weeks which are forbidden.
Kim is also thought to be gearing up for a banned nuclear test at its underground testing site, which would be its first in five years.
Kim said North Korea will 'focus all efforts on the endless and accelerating development of the national nuclear combat armed forces,' KCNA reported Thursday.
Kim made acquiring tactical nukes - smaller, shorter-range weapons designed for battlefield use - a top priority at a key party congress in January 2021.
Kim Jong Un is pictured attending the anniversary of one of North Korea's elite schools, originally founded to educate the children of people who died during the Communist revolution
Kim embraces a young pupil of Mangyongdae Revolutionary School as his classmates cheer. The institution is located in Pyongyang and is one of the country's most-prestigious
Kim Jong Un is accompanied by pupils of one of North Korea's elite revolutionary schools - designed to produce the next generation of top officials - as it marks 75 years since its founding
North Korean state media said Kim was greeted by music and cheers from pupils of the school, before making a speech in which he credited the institution for safeguarding the revolution
'The latest test means the North is operating tactical nuclear capability on cruise missiles, which are harder to detect for their low-altitude flight,' Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification told AFP.
'It is a testament to Pyongyang's capability to mount nuclear warheads,' he said, adding that cruise missiles can also have irregular flight paths making them harder to intercept.
North Korea revised its nuclear laws last month to allow preemptive strikes, with Kim declaring North Korea an 'irreversible' nuclear power - effectively ending the possibility of negotiations over its arsenal.
Since then, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have ramped up combined military exercises, including deploying a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier to the area twice, infuriating Pyongyang, which sees such drills as rehearsals for invasion.
In response, North Korea organised drills that it said earlier this week had gamed out hitting South Korea's ports, airports and military command facilities with tactical nukes.
North Korea has tested 'strategic' cruise missiles before but this is the first time it has said they have a nuclear role and are operational - although analysts question Pyongyang's claims, saying it has not shown it can actually make nuclear warheads small enough.
'North Korea's cruise missiles, air force, and tactical nuclear devices are probably much less capable than propaganda suggests,' said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
'The Kim regime is sometimes surprisingly transparent about weapons development goals, but it also tends to exaggerate strength and capabilities,' he added.
Kim Jong Un makes a speech at one of North Korea's elite schools, speaking at a lectern emblazoned with the Worker's Party logo and in front of a statue of his father and grandfather
Kim Jong Un and his top party officials stand in front of a crowd of students at one of North Korea's elite schools, delivering a speech to mark the 75th anniversary of its founding
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends the 75th Founding Anniversaries of Mangyongdae and Kang Pan Sok Revolutionary Schools, both located near the capital Pyongyang
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North Korea says it has tested and deployed 'tactical...