North Korea tests ‘tactical guided missiles’

Published January 29, 2022
A combination image shows a missile test that state media KCNA says was conducted this week at undisclosed locations in North Korea. — Reuters
A combination image shows a missile test that state media KCNA says was conducted this week at undisclosed locations in North Korea. — Reuters

SEOUL: North Korea test-fired two different weapons systems this week, state media said on Friday, while highlighting Kim Jong Un’s inspection of an “important” munitions factory.

Pyongyang has conducted six weapons tests in January, including firing hypersonic missiles, doubling down on Kim’s call to build “military muscle” with one of the most intense single-month barrages on record while ignoring US offers of talks.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the Tuesday test involved long-range cruise missiles that hit a “target island 1,800 km away” in the Sea of Japan.

Thursday’s launch of “tactical guided missiles”, meanwhile, was to test “the explosive power of the conventional warhead,” KCNA said.

The flurry of tests follows Kim re-avowing his commitment to military modernisation at a key party speech in December.

Washington imposed new sanctions in response, prompting anger in Pyon­gyang, which last week hinted it could abandon a years-long, self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range tests. On Friday, KCNA ran photographs showing Kim, wearing his usual long black leather jacket, surrounded by uniformed officials — their faces pixellated — inspecting a munitions factory that produces “a major weapon system”.

Kim said “the factory holds a very important position and duty in modernizing the country’s armed forces,” KCNA added.

“Pyongyang seems to have the evasion of sanctions in mind — blurring their faces to keep them from the sanctions list down the road,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the private Sejong Institute.

The reports did not mention if Kim attended this week’s weapons tests, but a separate news item noted his inspection of a vegetable farm close to the site of the Thursday missile launch.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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