Backpack Bombers a Propaganda Tale

A unit of North Korean soldiers carrying what appeared to be representations of “nuclear backpacks” (a variation on the “briefcase bomb” concept) appeared during a military parade held on Saturday as part of North Korea’s commemoration of its “victory” in the Korean War.

However, it is thought unlikely that North Korea has the technical capacity to produce such a high-tech nuclear device.

A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, Kim Min Seok told a regular briefing on the morning of the 29th, “Nuclear backpacks are an extremely small type of nuclear weapon; you need very advanced skills in order to miniaturize like that,” before noting, “Experts do not believe that North Korea has reached the ability to manufacture these backpacks.”

The military parade, held on the morning of the 27th in Kim Il Sung Square, saw the appearance of a unit wearing backpacks marked with a radioactive warning symbol (see picture). Experts see this as North Korea publicizing the claimed ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons, but they doubt the veracity of the claim.

In 2011, Daily NK reported that the Chosun People’s Army had established a “backpack bomb unit” under the 8th Corps in North Pyongan Province. The unit, which is brigade-level, is said to operate under the auspices of a logging camp. However, there is no evidence that the unit is equipped with functioning weaponry even if it exists.