The latest missile test by North Korea was of “a new-type ground-to-sea cruise rocket,” the nuclear-armed country’s state media said Friday.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said that Thursday’s launches were of “a powerful attack means capable of striking any enemy group of battleships attempting at military attack on the DPRK from the ground at will.”
DPRK is the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
On Thursday, the North fired several short-range anti-ship cruise missiles from its east coast in defiance of international sanctions. The missiles reportedly flew some 200 km.
The launch, overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, “accurately detected and hit … floating targets” in the Sea of Japan, according to KCNA.
Thursday’s launches came after two U.S. aircraft carriers deployed to waters off the Korean Peninsula as a show of force, recently left the Sea of Japan after holding joint exercises with Self-Defense Forces ships and fighter jets.
KCNA said the test also touted the combat abilities of a new and apparently homemade transporter erector launcher.
“During the launching preparation process, such specifications were also examined and confirmed as the mobility and entry into combatant position of newly developed caterpillar self-propelled launching pad vehicle, rapid-firing preparation and reliability of operation of the launching and controlling systems,” the report said.
Thursday’s missile test was its fourth in as many weeks.
In April, a top North Korean official told the BBC that the country will continue to test missiles despite international condemnation and growing military tensions with the U.S. and its allies, including Japan.
“We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol said at the time.
There has been mounting speculation that Pyongyang will conduct a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, suggested by a New Year’s Day address in which the North Korean leader claimed that the country was in the “final stages” of developing such a weapon.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed that a launch of an ICBM by Pyongyang “won’t happen” on his watch.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman suggested Thursday that the North Korean issue remained far from any solution.
“We continue to call on the DPRK to refrain from what we consider to be provocative actions and destabilizing actions … that only serves to undermine the situation in the Korean Peninsula,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“We continue to call on them to stop those destabilizing activities. We hope at some point that talks could resume, but we are nowhere near that point.”
The North’s ramped-up pace of nuclear and missile tests have also stoked concern in Tokyo, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to characterize Pyongyang’s weapons push as “a new level of threat.”
Japan has been at the forefront in seeking further sanctions to rein in the North’s nuclear and missile ambitions.
Pyongyang has blasted Japan’s criticism of its missile tests as a “pretext” for the easing of long-standing rules on the use of the SDF, while also threatening its destruction in any military conflict.
“If Japan is concerned about its security, it should not act (as) a poodle of the U.S. but withdraw its hostile policy toward the DPRK and remove the U.S. military bases for aggression from its territory,” a spokesman for the North’s National Peace Committee of Korea was quoted by KCNA as saying Wednesday.
“It should be mindful that its archipelago may be reduced into ashes before the U.S. in case of contingency, if it behaves wickedly under the eyes of the DPRK as now.”
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