Sunday, 24 October 2021

North Korea tests new ‘super-large’ rocket launcher

SEOUL: North Korea said that leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a “newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher,” another demonstration of the North’s expanding weapons arsenal apparently aimed at increasing its leverage ahead of a possible resumption of nuclear talks with the U.S. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said that Saturday’s weapons test was successful and cited Kim as saying the rocket launcher is “indeed a great weapon.” Kim underscored the need to “continue to step up the development of Korean-style strategic and tactical weapons for resolutely frustrating the ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces,” according to KCNA. The “hostile forces” likely referred to the United States and South Korea, whose recently ended regular military drills infuriated North Korea .

The North has called the drills an invasion rehearsal and conducted a slew of missile and rocket tests in response.

Some experts said North Korea aims to show off its weapons to try to get an upper hand ahead of a possible restart of nuclear negotiations, which have been largely stalemated since the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February fell apart due to squabbling over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea . The two leaders met again at the inter-Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.

Trump downplayed the latest launch, saying, “Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me. … He likes testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We’ll see what happens.”

South Korea’s military said North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday morning, and that they flew about 380 kilometres (236 miles) at a maximum altitude of 97 kilometres (60 miles). It was the seventh known weapons test by North Korea in about a month.

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