After a delighted Kim Jong Un supervised the latest successful test of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile controlled by a precision guidance system, the leader ordered the development of more powerful strategic weapons, the official KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
According to Bloomberg, the missile launched on Monday – the ninth such test this year and coming two days after the G-7 pledged to “strengthen measures” aimed at prompting North Korea to cease nuclear and ballistic missile trials – was equipped with an advanced automated pre-launch sequence compared with previous versions of the “Hwasong” rockets.
In fact, according to KCNA, the latest ballistic missile test involved a precision guidance system that landed within seven meters of its target. As Reuters further adds, The North’s test launch of a short-range ballistic missile landed in the sea off its east coast and was the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying international pressure and threats of more sanctions.
The latest missile was first unveiled at an April 15 military parade celebrating the birth anniversary of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung, the news agency said. It flew 450 kilometers (280 miles) toward Japan, according to South Korean military officials, with the government in Tokyo saying it may have reached waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The accuracy claims, if true, would represent a potentially significant advancement in North Korea’s missile program. KCNA said Kim called for the continued development of more powerful strategic weapons, though the report didn’t mention whether the missile could carry nuclear warheads.
“We can’t prove if it’s bluffing, but North Korea is basically saying it can hit the target right in the center, which is scary news for the U.S.,” said Suh Kune Y., a professor at Seoul National University’s department of nuclear engineering. “If true, that means they’re in the final stage of missile development.”
The successful test was music to Kim’s ears, who said the reclusive state would develop more powerful weapons in multiple phases in accordance with its timetable to defend North Korea against the United States. “He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger ‘gift package’ to the Yankees” in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
KCNA said North Korea won’t be swayed by pressure from the G-7.
“The G-7 summit is a place where those nuclear- and missile-haves put their heads together to discuss how to pressure weak countries and those incurring their displeasure,” the news agency said. “The U.S. and its followers are seriously mistaken if they think they can deprive the DPRK of its nuclear deterrence, the nation’s life and dignity, through sanctions and pressure,” it said, using an abbreviation for North Korea.
Trump, who has sought more help from China to rein in its neighbor and ally, said on Twitter that “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile…but China is trying hard!” Beijing also expressed its opposition to the test. All sides should “ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula as soon as possible and bring the Peninsula issue back onto the right track of peaceful dialog,” China’s foreign ministry said.
Meanwhile, South Korea said it had conducted a joint drill with a U.S. supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber earlier on Monday. North Korea’s state media earlier accused the United States of staging a drill to practise dropping nuclear bombs on the Korean peninsula.
The U.S. Navy said its aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, also planned a drill with another U.S. nuclear carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, in waters near the Korean peninsula. A U.S. Navy spokesman in South Korea did not give specific timing for the strike group’s planned drill.
North Korea calls such drills a preparation for war, and prompted yet another outburst from Kim on Tuesday:
“Whenever news of our valuable victory is broadcast recently, the Yankees would be very much worried about it and the gangsters of the south Korean puppet army would be dispirited more and more,” KCNA cited leader Kim as saying.