North Korea says Kim Jong Un oversaw rocket launcher tests aimed at Seoul

Photo of author


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire drill of multiple launchers of nuclear-capable “super-large” rockets designed to target South Korea’s capital as it vowed to boost its war deterrence in the face of deepening confrontations with rivals, state media said on Tuesday.

The report came a day after South Korea and Japan said they detected North Korean gunfire. multiple short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its eastern coast, adding to a spate of weapons displays that have increased regional tensions.

Experts say North Korea’s large artillery rockets blur the lines between artillery systems and ballistic missiles because they can create their own thrust and are guided during their launch. North Korea has described some of these systems, including the 600mm multiple rocket launchers that were tested on Monday, as capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads.

Photos released by the North’s Korean Central News Agency showed at least six rockets fired simultaneously from launch vehicles and flames and smoke covering what appeared to be a small island target.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said later Tuesday that it assesses that North Korea conducted more launches than shown in the photographs. Lt. Col. Lee Chang-hyun, deputy spokesman for the JCS, said South Korea classifies the North Korean weapon system tested on Monday as a ballistic missile in view of its characteristics and capabilities.

The KCNA also said that North Korean troops in a separate test simulated the explosion of an artillery shell at a preset altitude. The report did not specify whether that test was to rehearse how a nuclear weapon would be detonated on an enemy target.

Kim called the 600mm multiple rocket launchers key parts of his arsenal of weapons that are supposedly capable of destroying Seoul if another war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.

“(Kim) said it is necessary to further instill in enemies that if armed conflict and war breaks out, they will never be able to avoid disastrous consequences,” KCNA said. He called on his army to “further fulfill its mission of blocking and suppressing the possibility of war with constant and perfect preparation to collapse the enemy’s capital and the structure of its military forces.”

Lee, South Korea’s deputy spokesman, said South Korea and the United States have been strengthening their response capabilities against North Korea’s growing nuclear threats.

The North Korean launches came days after the end of The latest combined military exercises of South Korea and the United States. which the North presents as an invasion rehearsal. It was unclear whether North Korea timed the launches with a visit to Seoul by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who attended a meeting on Monday. democracy summit and held talks with South Korean officials about the North Korean threat.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen since 2022, after Kim used the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a distraction to accelerate his tests of missiles and other weapons. The United States and South Korea have responded by expanding their combined training and trilateral exercises involving Japan and updating their deterrence strategies based on American strategic assets.

There are concerns that North Korea could further increase pressure in an election year in the United States and South Korea.

In a fiery speech to the Pyongyang parliament in January, Kim declared that He was abandoning North Korea’s long-standing goal of reconciling with the South. and ordered a rewrite of the North’s constitution to consolidate its war-divided rival as its most hostile adversary. He said the new letter must specify that North Korea will annex and subjugate the South if another war breaks out.


Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage on

Leave a comment