North’s new toy is likely short-range missile

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North’s new toy is likely short-range missile

South Korea’s military believes that the “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon” North Korea said it successfully tested last week is a new type of short-range missile, a local government source exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source told the paper that it was an early assessment and further analysis was under way. Local authorities think the missile is similar to the Javelin - a British-made man-portable close air defense guided system - or Spike - an Israeli guided missile, which are both used by the South Korean military.

Last Friday, North Korea’s state media reported that Kim Jong-un supervised a newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon test at a defense institute. This was the first time in a year that the leader was officially described as overseeing a weapons experiment.

As denuclearization talks between the United States stalled, analysts believe Pyongyang was sending a warning to Washington that its patience was wearing thin. But no further details about the weapon were given by the North’s media, nor did it specify the precise date of the test.

An English version of a report in the Korean Central News Agency said the test was conducted successfully at the Academy of National Defense Science and that Kim was “so excited” to have seen “great work” by defense scientists and munitions workers. Kim was quoted as saying the development of the weapon was directed “step by step” by his father, former leader Kim Jong-il, who died in Dec. 2011.

Some local military officials believe the North may try to sell the weapon to foreign countries, as international sanctions have been damaging its economy. UN resolutions, however, ban the regime from selling arms.

The Javelin, one of two weapons South Korean military officials think the new North Korean weapon is based on, is 1.4 meters long (4.6 feet) and can fire a missile up to a maximum range of 4.5 kilometers (2.7 miles) with a maximum speed of 1,304 miles per hour. The system can be launched from a soldier’s shoulder or from a military vehicle.

The other weapon that the South’s military think the North Koreans based the weapon on is the Spike. The Israeli guided missile system has been deployed by South Korean Marines atop combat vehicles to target North Korean tunnels near the Northern Limit Line, the de-facto maritime border separating both Koreas in the Yellow Sea. The Spike can hit targets as far as 25 kilometers away.

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