Pyongyang has confirmed it conducted yet another test of a new “super-large multiple rocket launcher” a day after Seoul reported that North Korea had fired two short-range missiles towards the Sea of Japan amid ongoing drills.
The launch, carried out early on Sunday morning, went off without a hitch, North Korean state media reported, saying that it was conducted to “verify strategic and technical characteristics” of the novel launcher, which has featured in a series of recent tests by the reclusive country.
It’s unclear whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the drill to oversee the launch in person.
Two short-range missiles blasted off from a launch site in the city of Wonsan, on the country’s eastern coast, at 6.10am local time, according to the South Korean military.
The missiles flew some 230km (143 miles), reaching an altitude of 30km (18.6 miles) before splashing into the Sea of Japan outside of Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
While still abiding by the self-imposed moratorium on long-range ballistic missile and nuclear tests, Pyongyang has recently taken its missile activity up a notch, with Sunday’s test becoming the country’s fourth in a month.
North Korea took a three-month respite from testing – from late November to early March – before eventually resuming launches. It came after Washington refused to change its approach to the stalled de-nuclearization talks as demanded by Pyongyang, seeking a partial lifting of economic sanctions in return for nuclear disarmament. Washington insists North Korea should first dismantle its nuclear capacities completely before any relief is considered.