North Korea has test-fired a new "ultra-precision" rocket to be deployed across its navy in the latest evidence that Pyongyang is stepping up its development of missile technology.

The exercise was carried out by the North's East Sea fleet under the watchful eye of leader Kim Jong-Un, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.

"The ultra-precision anti-ship rocket blasted off from a rocket boat. The intelligent rocket precisely sought, tracked and hit the 'enemy' ship after taking a safe flight," KCNA said, without giving a location or date.

Images of the test were published on the front page of the ruling Workers' Party Rodong Sinmun newspaper, showing Kim observing the missile being fired from a small naval vessel.

The new anti-ship rocket would be deployed across North Korea's navy "before long", it added.

Satisfied with the "perfect" development of the new rocket, Kim called for the production of "more tactical guided weapons of high precision and intelligence".

Heavy sanctions

The nuclear-armed communist country has pushed for the development of new ballistic missiles and rockets, despite heavy sanctions imposed by the international community.

Pyongyang's rhetoric has become increasingly bellicose since the UN passed a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights record and calling for its leaders to be investigated for crimes against humanity, and Washington blamed it for a cyber attack on a US film company.

South Korean and US experts believe the North could be on the way to developing missiles that could threaten the US mainland, although opinion is split on how much progress it has made.

The announcement about the rocket test on Saturday came in the lead-up to US-South Korean military exercises in coming months.

North Korea routinely seeks to raise tensions ahead of the annual drills, although this year Pyongyang has also offered to suspend nuclear testing if Washington calls off the exercises.

Source: Agencies