SEOUL • North Korea yesterday boasted of a new anti-tank weapon said to be so powerful, it could turn the most heavily armoured enemy tank into "boiled pumpkin".
Pyongyang's state media said leader Kim Jong Un had watched tests of the portable, laser-guided rocket and declared it had the "longest firing range in the world", and was "as accurate as a sniper's rifle".
"He noted with great satisfaction that even the special armoured tanks and cars of the enemies which boast their high manoeuvrability and striking power are no more than a boiled pumpkin before the anti-tank guided weapon," the KCNA news agency reported.
Mr Kim called for the weapon to go into mass production as soon as possible and for it to be deployed to front-line units and coastal defence units. North Korea maintains a huge military of some 1.2 million active troops out of a population of around 25 million - double the size of the armed forces in South Korea, which has twice as many people.
But most of the North's arms are outdated and the military is hamstrung by chronic fuel shortages, which are likely to worsen when the country is slapped with tough new sanctions the United Nations is weighing over a nuclear test and rocket launch Pyongyang conducted earlier this year. The sanctions include a ban on the supply of aviation fuel to North Korea.
The United States last week presented a draft UN Security Council resolution it negotiated with China that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea.
This was as the US military test- fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a week late last Thursday to show the reliability of its nuclear weapons at a time of rising strategic tensions with countries like Russia and North Korea.
The unarmed Minuteman III missile blasted off from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, headed for a target area near Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.
The draft UN resolution would require member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea to look for illicit goods. Previously, they were required to do so only if they had reasonable grounds to believe there was illicit cargo.
Meanwhile, the UN human rights investigator for North Korea has called on Russia to renounce a new extradition treaty, voicing fears that North Koreans seeking asylum could be forced back home and face punishment in violation of international law. About 10,000 North Koreans are regular labourers in Russia, and some stay on after their contracts have expired to seek asylum, said UN special rapporteur on human rights Marzuki Darusman.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS