North Korean leader oversees test of ‘new anti-aircraft weapon’

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a new type of “anti-aircraft weapon system,” state media reported Sunday, as the reclusive nation continues its arms testing and development.

The latest weapons test comes after a spate of missile launches, military drills and threats from the Pyongyang as the U.S. seeks to tighten the screws on the North.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim “watched the test of new-type anti-aircraft guided weapon system” that was aimed at “detecting and striking different targets flying from any direction.” The KCNA report did not give a date or location for the test.

Kim was quoted as saying that the weapon system’s “efficiency to detect and track targets has remarkably improved and its hitting accuracy has also increased, compared with those of last year,” adding that defects discovered last year had been “perfectly overcome.”

“This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy in all over the country like forests so as to completely spoil the enemy’s wild dream to command the air,” Kim said.

The test was organized by the Academy of National Defense Science, which in 2010, when it was known as the Second Academy of Natural Sciences, was slapped with U.S. sanctions. The academy “is a national-level organization responsible for research and development of North Korea’s advanced weapons systems, including missiles and probably nuclear weapons,” the U.S. Treasury Department said at the time.

Sunday’s announcement came less than a week after North Korea said on May 22 that its test-firing a day earlier of a solid-fuel, medium-range missile capable of striking most of Japan was “perfect” and that the weapon was ready to be deployed “for action.”

That test, of a Pukguksong-2, flew close to 500 km, reaching an altitude of about 560 km, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

The Pukguksong-2 is a land-based version of a submarine-launched ballistic missile in development. The North’s progress on this front has worried its neighbors, as the solid-fueled missile has a likely range of 1,000-2,000 km and can be moved and hidden more easily than its liquid-fueled counterpart.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had characterized the launch as a “challenge to the world.”

Pyongyang, undeterred by multiple United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, continues to defy the international community with atomic and rocket tests.

On Saturday, Group of Seven leaders presented a united front on the North Korean nuclear issue, urging the North to halt its nuclear and missile programs or face bolstered measures.

“North Korea, a top priority in the international agenda, increasingly poses new levels of threat of a grave nature to international peace and stability,” the G-7 said in its leaders’ communique.

“North Korea must immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” the statement said, adding that the grouping was “ready to strengthen measures aimed at achieving these objectives.”