North Korea has decided to assign additional operational duties to its frontline armed units, which indicates that the country may want to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting rival South Korea along the two countries’ tense border.
The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparation for its first nuclear test in five years as part of its possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea.
A few weeks ago, the United States has warned North Korea of conducting any more nuclear tests, but the officials of N. Korea seemed to have ignored the warning to go ahead with their agenda of expanding their nuclear capabilities.
During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, Kim Jong Un and other top military officers of North Korea discussed “the work of additionally confirming the operation duties of the frontline units of the Korean People’s Army and modifying the operation plans.”
Kim also ordered steps to be taken to “enhance the operational capabilities of the frontline units,” KCNA said.
In April, when North Korea test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” it said the weapon has “great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long range artillery units, enhancing the efficiency in the operation of (North Korea’s) tactical nukes and diversification of their firepower missions.”
Its use of the words “tactical nukes” suggested the weapon is likely a short-range weapons system armed with a nuclear warhead. Some experts said at the time that North Korea intended to deploy such weapons threatening key facilitates in South Korea, including US military bases there.
Later in April, Kim said North Korea could preemptively use its nuclear weapons if threatened, saying his nukes would “never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent” in situations where the North faces external threats to its “fundamental interests.”