North Korea has released pictures of Kim Jong-un overseeing a test of a ‘new-type tactical guided weapon’ which the Hermit Kingdom said was ‘a solemn warning to South Korean military warmongers’.
Kim said the new missile would be hard to intercept and was capable of reducing South Korea’s military ‘to scrap iron… when it is considered necessary’.
In a statement released alongside the pictures, North Korea hit out at the South for buying up new ‘offensive’ weapon systems – thought to be a reference to its purchase of US F-35 fighter jets – and for holding joint military drills with the US.
However, it stopped short of directly criticising America in its statement, which has been typical of missile tests in the past.
Following the test, the US urged North Korea to stop its ‘provocations’ and return to the negotiating table.
North Korea has released photos of Kim Jong-un overseeing a North Korean missile test on Thursday, which it said was of a ‘new-type tactical guided weapon’ (Kim is pictured alongside trusted adviser Ri Pyong-chol, who is known to be part of the country’s nuclear programme)
North Korea said the missile test was designed as a ‘solemn warning to South Korean warmongers’, and was critical of Seoul buying new F-35 fighter jets from the US
Experts said the missile appears similar to the Russian Iskander, a short-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead
In a statement released by state news agency KCNA, North Korea said: ‘Kim Jong-un personally organized and guided the fire of the new-type tactical guided weapon as part of the powder demonstration to send a solemn warning to South Korean military warmongers who are running a high fever in their moves to introduce the ultramodern offensive weapons into South Korea and hold military exercise in defiance of the repeated warnings of [North Korea].’
The statement added: ‘[Kim Jong-un] stressed it is a work of top priority and a must activity for the security of the country to steadily develop powerful physical means and conduct the tests for their deployment for neutralising [South Korean] weapons posing undeniable threats to the security of the country immediately and turning them to scrap iron at an early stage when it is considered necessary.’
North Korea test-fired two missiles on Thursday, one of which flew around 430 miles out into the Sea of Japan before splashing down into the ocean.
Experts said the weapon showed similarities to the Russian-made Iskander – a short-range, nuclear-capable missile.
Other observers pointed out that the missile appears near-identical to the KN-23 which North Korea tested in May, though has a considerably improved range.
Experts also said the missile appears similar to the KN-23 which North Korea tested in May, but has a much longer range – suggesting they have made improvements
Kim said the new weapon system was designed to have a low-altitude flight which would make it difficult to intercept
Kim observed the test alongside two of his ‘nuclear generals’ – Kim Jong-sik (second left) and Jang Chang-ha (second right), who are heavily involved with the country’s nuclear programme
North Korea’s state-run media said the weapon was designed as a defence system to counter new threats from South Korea – believed to be a reference to F-35 jets it is buying from the US
The new missile’s range puts the whole of South Korea and part of southern Japan within striking distance, while it’s low-altitude flight would make it very difficult to intercept.
It comes just days after North Korea released images of Kim Jong-un inspecting a new submarine which is thought to be capable of firing nuclear missiles.
Kim was pictured inspecting the sub alongside the likes of Kim Jong-sik and Jang Chang-ha, two senior figures within his nuclear weapons programme, hinting at its true purpose.
While the shell of the submarine is likely to be a relic from the 1950s, observers say it could have been retrofitted to launch multiple submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
North Korea has at least one functional SLBM, the Pukguksong-1, and has carried out several tests of its successor, the Pukguksong-2.
Both missiles are capable of being fitted with nuclear warheads.
The North Korean missile test is just the latest flashpoint in the Sea of Japan this week, which also saw South Korean jets fire warning shots at a Russian spy plane, and North Korea capture a Russian fishing vessel
It comes just days after North Korea released images of Kim inspecting what it described as a new submarine, which is thought to be capable of launching nuclear missiles
Kim inspected the vessel alongside senior advisers known to be involved in the country’s nuclear programme, hinting at its true purpose
The firing of the missiles will cast new doubt on efforts to restart denuclearization talks after Trump and Kim met at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas at the end of June.
A fresh round of talks have yet to begin, and North Korea warned recently they could be derailed by the United States and South Korea’s refusal to scrap military exercises scheduled for next month.
‘We urge no more provocations, and that all parties should abide by their obligations under (United Nations Security Council) resolutions,’ said Ortagus, who refused to say if she considered the missile tests ‘provocations.’
North Korean state media provided no technical specifications, but said Friday the latest tests were of a ‘new-type tactical guided weapon’ that sent a ‘solemn warning to the South Korean warmongers’ over their insistence on holding the joint drills ‘in defiance of repeated warnings’.
An impromptu June meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un produced an agreement to continue denuclearization talks
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he believed the working-level talks would still go ahead, and that the latest tests were a negotiating tactic.
‘Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side,’ Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
‘We remain convinced that there´s a diplomatic way forward, a negotiated solution to this,’ he said, adding he was unconcerned at the delay in getting back to the table.
‘If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it,’ he said.
Pyongyang carried out similar short-range launches in May, which Trump dismissed at the time as ‘very standard stuff’ that would have no impact on his relationship with Kim.