North Korean leader seen observing weapons test as country fires projectiles in eastern waters

Footage published by North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Sunday showed the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, smiling and cheering as he watched the test-firing of what the newspaper called a “new tactical weapon.” “.

The projectiles were fired from North Korea’s Hamhung region around 6 p.m., South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Sunday. The projectiles traveled about 110 kilometers (about 68.3 miles) at an altitude of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), with a top speed of Mach 4.0 or less, the statement said.

On Sunday, North Korean state media KCNA reported that Kim observed the test firing of a “new type tactically guided weapon”, which was “successfully carried out”.

KCNA claimed that the new weapon has strengthened the country’s “front-line long-range artillery units” and increased efficiency “in operating (North Korea’s) tactical nuclear weapons and diversifying their missions of firepower”.

Immediately after the launch, the South Korean military, intelligence agencies and the National Security Bureau held an emergency meeting to assess the situation and discuss countermeasures, according to the statement from the heads of state- joint major.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in receives real-time reports from the National Security Bureau and has ordered relevant ministries to inspect North Korea’s movements, Moon’s spokeswoman Park Kyung said on Sunday. -mee, in a statement.

“We are aware of North Korea’s statement that they conducted a test of a long-range artillery system. We are analyzing all activities in close coordination with our allies and partners,” a spokesperson said. from the US Department of Defense in a statement, adding that the United States is “very clear on its commitment to defend (South Korea), Japan and the American homeland”.

Duyeon Kim, deputy principal researcher at the Center for a New American Security, said North Korea is aiming to make missiles capable of evading defense systems, with “characteristics that can fly them under U.S. and South radar.” -Koreans”.

“These types of missiles particularly threaten South Korea and Japan and they are weapons that can be used or even start a conflict,” she said.

Ankit Panda, Stanton’s senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, added that this is the first time North Korea has “specifically assigned a tactical nuclear weapon role to a missile in a test.”

North Korea has increased its missile tests this year, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in more than four years on March 24, in defiance of international law.

In the first four months of 2022 alone, the North conducted 12 tests; in comparison, it only conducted four tests in 2020 and eight in 2021.

The ICBM would have been its most formidable yet – although missile experts and a South Korean military official later said it may be a less advanced weapon than previously thought previously.

Duyeon Kim said the tests could have several purposes: one being a message to the North Korean people that “their country is strong despite their apparent economic difficulties”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a missile test on April 16, according to North Korean state media KCNA.

North Korea also has “a national imperative to manufacture and perfect the kinds of advanced weapons that Kim Jong Un ordered last year,” she said. This year is an important year for the country due to several important dates – including the 10th anniversary of the reign of Kim Jong Un and the 110th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung – one of the most important events in the Calendar North Korean.

Lee Sang-hyun, president of South Korean think tank Sejong Institute, said Kim could be under pressure “to show off his accomplishments”. April holds many of these important dates, providing an opportunity “to show the world their country’s missile and nuclear capabilities.”

Another reason for the recent tests could be to protest against joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises due to take place this month, experts said.

North Korea has long condemned the joint exercises as posing a serious threat to its security, accusing the United States of a “hostile policy” towards the country.


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