SEOUL • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a super-large multiple rocket launcher, North Korean state media KCNA said yesterday.
North Korea fired a new round of short-range projectiles into its eastern seas that flew about 330km on Tuesday, South Korean officials said, only hours after it signalled a new willingness to resume stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States later this month.
Mr Kim, who had guided the testing of the same multiple rocket launcher before, said its capabilities have been "finally verified in terms of combat operation" and what remains to be done with the rocket launcher is a "running fire test", KCNA said, without elaborating on what the test would entail.
KCNA also released photos of the test that showed a smiling Mr Kim, who has been on hand for almost all of his state's series of missiles and weapon tests that started in May, standing by a launcher.
Mr Kim ordered future tasks and ways to "steadily" attain cutting-edge national defence to officials that had joined him, including senior officials such as his sister Kim Yo Jong, KCNA said.
The test looked to be of a 600mm calibre multiple-launch rocket system that North Korea first introduced last month, said adjunct senior fellow Ankit Panda at the Federation of American Scientists.
He added that the trajectory varied considerably from the previous test, suggesting that North Korea was exploring what this system was capable of.
"The North Korean statement hints at further testing, including possibly a so-called 'ripple' fire test, where they look to rapidly fire all of the four missiles this system can carry in one salvo," said Mr Panda, who covers nuclear and conventional force developments in Asia.
While analysts said North Korea conducts weapons tests for a range of purposes, including technical development and reassurance for the defence establishment, Tuesday's launches appeared to have been timed to send a message to Washington regarding what may happen if the US does not come to North Korea with realistic proposals. North Korea often ratchets up military tensions ahead of negotiations.
North Korea is due to come into focus when the UN General Assembly meeting starts next week in New York, after a UN Security Panel report said Pyongyang was violating sanctions to help fund its weapons programme.
Although US President Donald Trump has played down previous tests this year, saying he did not believe short-range missiles violated any agreements, his now-ousted national security adviser John Bolton had said that even short-range launches by North Korea are banned under UN resolutions.