22 March 2020
Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the testing of a newly developed "tactical guided weapon", state media reported on Sunday, a day after South Korea said that Pyongyang had fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday that the North conducted the launches from areas near its western county of Sonchon in North Pyongan province, and the missiles flew around 410 km, reaching a maximum altitude of around 50 km, reports the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
It was the North's third such weapons test so far this year.
In a report, Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said: "The fire was aimed at reconfirming and showing to the KPA (Korean People's Army) commanding officers the tactical characters and power of a new weapon system to be delivered to KPA units.
"The fire clearly proved the characters of different flight trajectories and falling angles, accuracy of guided shells and their power."
KCNA said it was the latest in a series of newly developed weapons systems, and cited Kim as saying that the "successive birth of the new weapon systems of our style serves as a great event in making development and a difference in the armed forces of our state".
"The new-type weapon systems which we have recently developed and the tactical and strategic weapon systems in the development stage will make decisive contributions to the realization of the Party's strategic plan to make a radical change in the national defense strategy," Kim added.
The latest weapon test came as the North was making all-out efforts to block the new coronavirus from breaking out on its soil amid its fast global outbreak.
Though it has not reported any confirmed case, Pyongyang has tightened its border, toughened quarantine measures and restricted movement of people and goods.
On Saturday, South Korea denounced the launches as "a very inappropriate act" coming at a time when the whole world has been facing difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic, and urged Pyongyang to immediately halt such military activities, reports Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea conducted 13 missile tests last year, with the latest on carried out in November in show of force and frustration over stalemated denuclearization talks with Washington.
Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled since the gailed summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in February last year.