North Korea confirms launch

Fired up: The photo of a test fire of a tactical ballistic missile released by KNCA. — AFP

North Korea has test-fired a tactical ballistic missile equipped with a “new autonomous navigation system”, state media said, with leader Kim Jong Un vowing to boost the country’s nuclear force.

Kim oversaw the Friday test-launch into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, on a mission to evaluate the “accuracy and reliability of the autonomous navigation system”, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The launch was the latest in a string of ever more sophisticated tests by North Korea, which has fired off cruise missiles, tactical rockets and hypersonic weapons in recent months, in what the nuclear-armed, UN-sanctioned country says is a drive to upgrade its defences.

The Friday launch came hours after leader Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong denied allegations by Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang is shipping weapons to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.Seoul’s military on Friday described the test as “several flying objects presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles” from North Korea’s eastern Wonsan area into waters off its coast.

The suspected missiles travelled around 300km before splashing down in waters between South Korea and Japan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said.

“The accuracy and reliability of the autonomous navigation system were verified through the test fire,” Pyongyang’s KCNA said yesterday, adding that leader Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the launch.

In a separate report released yesterday, KCNA said Kim visited a military production facility the previous day and urged for “more rapidly bolstering the nuclear force” of the nation “without halt and hesitation”.

During the visit, he said the “enemies would be afraid of and dare not to play with fire only when they witness the nuclear combat posture of our state”, according to KCNA. — AFP

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