SEOUL – North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un supervised “a newly-developed large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system” this week and said it would be “an inescapable distress” to its targets, state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday.
The rocket test on Wednesday “verified the combat effectiveness of the overall system,” with a “new-type guided ordnance rocket, which will play a main role in ground military operations, in a short span of time according to the strategic policy of artillery modernization for the building of armed forces” established by the North Korean regime.
KCNA said the test was supervised by Kim, who after learning the result of the test-fire, said the system would be “an inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon.”
North Korea was thought to have launched two short-range ballistic missiles from an area near Wonsan on the country’s east coast during Wednesday’s test, according to an assessment by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Thursday, the JCS maintained its assessment despite the North Korean media reports claiming the tests were for a guided rocket system.
“The South Korean and the United States intelligence authorities so far believe that they showed flight features similar to those of a new type of short-range ballistic missiles,” JCS spokesperson Kim Jun-rak said in a press briefing, local news agency Yonhap reported.
However, he added that a final assessment would be made after a joint analysis of all the available information.
The information about the tests published by North Korean state media outlets does not carry photos of the supposed rocket-launch system, unlike last week when they had published photos of the tested missiles which had been identified by Seoul as a variant of Russian Iskander series short-range missiles.
Some experts have suggested that missiles fired in the two recent rounds of tests are capable of reaching South Korean territory and the US bases there, but do not constitute a threat to US territories.
Therefore the missile launches are being seen as a protest by Pyongyang against the joint US-South Korea military drills set to start next week.
These are North Korea’s first weapons tests since the meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump on June 30 at the inter-Korean border, threaten to increase tension in the region, while negotiations for the denuclearization of Pyongyang remain stalled.
The Trump administration has downplayed the importance of the tests, which could be an attempt by the North Korean regime to reaffirm its position in the face of the possible restart of negotiations for the two countries.