North Korea hails rocket test as new milestone

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) gives field guidance at a historic site associated with the Korean War in this undated photograph released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on June 9, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) gives field guidance at a historic site associated with the Korean War in this undated photograph released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on June 9, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has hailed the firing of a new anti-ship rocket as "another fresh milestone" in bolstering the country's naval power following the testing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

Kim watched the test of the "highly intelligent" rockets to be deployed at naval units, Pyongyang's KCNA news agency reported on Monday.

He "noted with great pleasure that it marked another fresh milestone in bolstering up the Juche (self-reliance)-based naval force", it said.

"Ultra-modern strike means of Korean style have been studied and developed one after another recently to completely contain the hostile forces," Kim was quoted as saying.

The South's defence ministry said the North had tested three short-range missiles with a range of nearly 100km on Sunday off its east coast.

"North Korea appears to be developing new missiles that would replace its old Soviet-designed anti-ship missiles," ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok told reporters.

The test was the latest since Pyongyang claimed on May 9 that it had successfully test-fired an SLBM - a technology that could eventually offer the nuclear-armed state a survivable second-strike capability.

A fully developed SLBM capability would take the North Korean nuclear threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula.

But some experts have questioned the authenticity of the May test, saying photos of the launch might have been digitally manipulated.