North Korea confirmed on Friday it conducted a third test of a new “super-large” multiple rocket launcher that it says expands its ability to destroy enemy targets in surprise attacks, as nuclear talks with the United States remain in limbo.
North Korea has been moving to enhance its military capabilities.
The latest test of the rocket launcher follows two tests in August and September of the same weapon.
Kim Jong Un “expressed satisfaction” at the success of the tests and congratulated the scientists who had developed the weapon, KCNA said, suggesting that Kim was not at the site.
North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, published a photo of the multiple rocket launcher, surrounded by yellow flames and smoke.
Thursday’s test verified that the “continuous fire system” of the multiple rocket launchers was able to “totally destroy” a group target of the enemy with a surprise strike, KCNA added.
Military officials in Japan and South Korea said on Thursday afternoon that the North had tested a projectile that travelled more than 322 kilometres (200 miles) across the country before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan had lodged a protest over the test, which he described as a missile launch and said was “extremely regrettable”.
“North Korea is engaged in increasingly escalatory behaviour,” US Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy said in a statement.
“This launch and continued North Korean aggression underscore the need for the Trump Administration to recommit to the maximum pressure policy” and for Congress to impose additional sanctions against the Kim government, Gardner said.
However, South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said the North’s missile launches did not pose “very grave threats”.
“We’re also test-firing missiles, no less than North Korea does,” he told a parliamentary session. “Our missile defence and intercept capabilities are absolutely superior to theirs.”
The weapons test is the first since working-level talks on October 5 between the US and North Korea ended without agreement.
North Korea has repeatedly emphasised an end-of-the-year deadline for denuclearisation talks with Washington that Kim set earlier this year.
Although Kim and US President Donald Trump have a “special” relationship, “Washington political circles and DPRK policymakers of the US administration are hostile to the DPRK for no reason,” a North Korean statement on KCNA said last month.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name for North Korea.