(LEAD) N. Korea says it test-fired tactical ballistic missile with new guidance technology

North Korea said Saturday it has test-fired a tactical ballistic missile equipped with a new “autonomous” navigation system in a bid to advance its weapons capabilities.

The North’s leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the weapons test on Friday, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The report did not reveal further details such as how many missiles were fired.

“The accuracy and reliability of the autonomous navigation system were verified through the test fire,” the report said.

The South Korean military said Friday it detected the North’s firing of several short-range ballistic missiles from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan. The missiles flew about 300 kilometers and landed in the East Sea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It marked the first weapons test since April 22, when North Korea fired shells from 600-mm super-large multiple rocket launchers, considered to be short-range ballistic missiles, toward the East Sea.

The provocation came one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping and R
ussian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed their support for North Korea during their summit in Beijing. The leaders adopted a joint statement opposing “acts of military intimidation” against North Korea by the U.S. and its allies.

The latest test also came after South Korea and the United States staged combined aerial drills involving advanced stealth jets on Thursday in an apparent show of airpower against evolving North Korean military threats.

In a separate dispatch, KCNA said Kim visited a defense industrial complex the previous day and expressed his satisfaction over its munitions production results in the first half and its yearly production plan.

The North’s leader highlighted the need to bolster the country’s nuclear war deterrent against the enemies’ “reckless military confrontational” moves, the report said.

Kim “stressed the need to continue to accelerate important activities and production activities for more rapidly bolstering the nuclear force of the DPRK without halt and hesitation,” KCNA
said. using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean leader has recently inspected munitions factories, but Pyongyang has not issued any bellicose messages against South Korea, spawning speculation that the North has been ramping up arms production for exports to Russia.

Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of Kim, flatly dismissed suspected military cooperation between North Korea and Russia on Friday, saying the country’s weapons are solely intended to target South Korea, not for exports to Moscow.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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