Pyongyang launches new type of short-range ballistic missiles toward East Sea
North Korea fired Saturday two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
North Korea’s ‘message’ came as the US ignored the end-of-the-year deadline set by Kim Jong-un to come up with a new proposal that would have lifted economic sanctions on the DPRK.
The tests featured a new type of short-range ballistic missile system known to US authorities as the KN24. The two missiles flew to a range of around 410 km, with a maximum in-flight altitude of 50 km.
The tests come amid the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The last missiles test conducted by North Korea was on 9 March. Multiple rocket launchers were fired as part of a military drill that is overseen by Kim Jong-un.
State media earlier reported that Pyongyang plans to convene a rubber-stamp parliamentary session on April 10 to discuss measures aimed at cushioning the fallout from growing coronavirus fears.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s outward-facing state media, the test “was aimed at reconfirming and showing to the KPA commanding officers the tactical characters and power of a new weapon system to be delivered to KPA units.
North Korea has sought to modernize or upgrade its conventional weapons.
Pyongyang’s inventory of delivery systems is a key factor in considering North Korea’s nuclear future. While this inventory is based on old Soviet technology only able to reach regional targets, North Korea is seriously pursuing the deployment of more capable, longer-range weapons. However, the future course of this effort remains uncertain given technical, engineering and other challenges faced by the North.
Throughout 2019, Pyongyang carried out 13 rounds of weapons tests, involving several new types of short-range ballistic missiles and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Kim Jong-un announced in his New Year’s Day message that North Korea would demonstrate a “new strategic weapon” in the near future, which could possibly mean an advanced type of ICBM, or a SLBM.