North Korean state media on Sunday showed leader Kim Jong Un observing live-fire drills of long-range multiple rocket launchers and what appeared to be a new short-range ballistic missile, a day after South Korea expressed concern that the launches were a violation of an inter-Korean agreement to cease all hostile acts. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over Saturday's drills and stressed that his front-line troops should keep a "high alert posture" and enhance combat ability to "defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance of the country." The weapons launches were a likely sign of Pyongyang's growing frustration at stalled diplomatic talks with Washington meant to provide coveted sanctions relief. They also highlighted the fragility of the detente between the Koreas, which in an agreement last September vowed to cease "all hostile acts" against each other in land, air and sea.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff initially said that the North launched a single missile but later said in a statement that "several projectiles" had been fired, reports the AP. In its updated assessment Sunday, the JCS did not confirm whether the North fired a ballistic missile, but said a "new tactical guided weapon" was among the weapons tested by the North, which also included 240 millimeter- and 300 millimeter-caliber multiple rocket launchers. The JCS said the various projectiles flew from 44 to 149 miles before splashing into sea. The North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos that showed Kim, equipped with binoculars, observing tests of weapons systems, including multiple rocket launchers and what appeared to be a short-range missile fired from a launch vehicle, and an explosion of what seemed to be a target set on island rocks. Read more from the AP here.
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