North Korea tested a new large-caliber multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) on Saturday, North Korea media revealed on Sunday, with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un overseeing the launch.
The DPRK tested a “super-large multiple rocket launcher,” an article from the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
“(Kim) gave high appreciation, saying that it is, indeed, a great weapon, our young national defence scientists are so clever as to conceive out of their own heads and design and complete the weapon system at one go-off although they have never seen it, and they have performed a great work,” the KCNA article reads.
The North Korean leader was reportedly pleased with test and with the progress of the country’s defense industry more generally.
“What made him happy today is that a contingent of young and promising talents who will shoulder upon the rapid development of the Juche-oriented defense industry grow in the course of the development of the new weapon,” the KCNA report reads.
North Korea’s state media said the new weapons would act as a deterrent, though the article did not mention the recently concluded U.S. – ROK joint military drills, differing from some of the North’s coverage of earlier tests.
It did, however, frame the test as part of an “indomitable offensive campaign … for resolutely frustrating the ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces,” likely in reference to the U.S.
“An important mission our defense industry takes up is to contribute to increasing national defense capabilities in every way so as to safeguard the Party, revolution, country and people,” the KCNA article added.
Photographs of the launch indicate the test was of a different system to that tested last week, showing a new large-caliber multiple rocket launch system which also appears to be in a different configuration from another MLRS system tested in early August.
According to KCNA, Kim was accompanied by “senior officials of the Party Central Committee and the field of national defense science including Ri Pyong Chol, Kim Jong Sik, Jang Chang Ha, Jon Il Ho and Jong Sung Il.”
Another image released by North Korean media revealed that Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong also observed the missile test.
Earlier analysis from Seoul on Saturday said that North Korea launched two missiles from its eastern coast. The projectiles flew around 380km at an apogee of 97 km with a reported maximum speed of mach 6.5 or more.
It was conducted from a military airfield at Sondok about three kilometers from the coast, images show, confirming Saturday morning’s report on the location from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
But unlike some recent tests, state media coverage did not feature images of a specific target such as rocks or islets off the coast.
The latest launch is North Korea’s seventh test since July 25, coming just over a week since the previous test on August 16.
Following the test on Friday EST, U.S. President Donald Trump maintained that he had a very good relationship with North Korea’s leader.
“Kim Jong-un has been pretty straight with me,” Trump said in comments carried by Reuters.
“He likes testing missiles, but we never restricted short-range missiles. We’ll see what happens,” the Associated Press reported.
Washington has maintained that the repeated launches are not a barrier to diplomacy and further negotiations, though U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said he’d “wish” for the tests to stop.
Pompeo also admitted that North Korea had not returned to negotiations as quickly as Washington had hoped, following Trump and Kim’s third meeting at the DMZ at the end of June.
Edited by Colin Zwirko
Featured image: KCNA