North Korea’s state-run Korean Central Television (KCTV) on Thursday afternoon aired the first footage of a missile test conducted the previous day.
In an unusual move which saw Pyongyang release its first imagery of yesterday morning’s test almost 34 hours after the event took place, the KCTV carried 15 photos on its 15:00 news bulletin.
News of the North Korean test — its second in a week — first emerged early yesterday morning, with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reporting that Pyongyang had launched two ballistic missiles from a site on its east coast.
State television’s 09:00 broadcast, too, did not include the imagery, featuring a simple read-out of a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Photos released this afternoon are partially pixelated, suggesting the delay may be linked to North Korean efforts to conceal some elements of what could potentially be an all-new weapons system.
The new imagery, one expert said, appeared to support suspicions that the new multiple rocket launcher (MRL) tested this week represented an upgraded version of North Korea’s KN-09 system, an artillery system first unveiled in March 2016.
“It does appear to resemble a larger-diameter KN-09,” said Ankit Panda, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “There are fins visible near the nose, just like on the KN-09.”
“The TEL here appears to be another variant on the tracked chassis that the North Koreans have judiciously put to use across a range of platforms, from coastal defense cruise missiles to short-range ballistic missiles to the KN23 to the Pukguksong-2.”
They also suggest the North Korean leader oversaw the launch from a boat and that the missiles were fired at a small group of islands.
Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News’s sister site NK Pro, said the delay in the imagery’s publication was unusual.
“What made today’s state media handling of images even more unusual is that the state-run TV carried images while the party daily did not,” she said. “When the party daily does not carry any photos, the state-run TV typically does not carry any images either.”
The delay in their release, Lee said, may be due to the fact that North Korean broadcasters “needed time to edit and vet the images.”
FOOTAGE: #NorthKorea‘s state-run KCTV at 1700 KST airs photos of their July 31 test-launch of the “new large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system.”
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) August 1, 2019
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: KCTV