North Korea: Kim Jong Un oversees missile ‘strike drill’

State news reports operation involved multiple rocket launchers and guided weapons fired into East Sea

A May 4th, 2019, photograph from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows rocket launchers firing during a test of weapons  in North Korea. Photograph: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

A May 4th, 2019, photograph from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows rocket launchers firing during a test of weapons in North Korea. Photograph: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

 

North Korea has conducted a “strike drill” for multiple launchers and fired tactical guided weapons into the East Sea in a military drill supervised by leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday, the North’s state media reported on Sunday.

The purpose of the drill was to test performance of “large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by defence units,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Photographs released by KCNA showed the tactical guided weapons fired could be a short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, according to Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Korea’s Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies.

Altough such a missile launch would be in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, at least it would not involve long-range ballistic missiles that have been seen as a threat to the United States.

The new, solid fuel ballistic missiles can fly as far as 500km (311 miles), putting the entire Korean Peninsula within its range and are capable of neutralising the advanced US anti-missile defense system deployed in South Korea, a military analyst said.

The South Korean defence ministry, however, put the range of weapons fired on Saturday at between 70 to 240 km (44 to 149 miles).

Giving orders on Saturday for the test firing, North Korean leader Mr Kim stressed the need to “increase the combat ability so as to defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance” of North Korea in the face of threats and invasions, the report said.

The statement came a day after the test firing, which analysts interpreted as an attempt to exert pressure on Washington to give ground in negotiations to end the North’s nuclear programme after a summit in February ended in failure.

North Korea had maintained a freeze in nuclear and ballistic missiles testing in place since 2017, which US president Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed out as an important achievement from his engagement with Pyongyang. – Reuters