North Korea says Thursday test-fire was anti-aircraft missile

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North Korea says Thursday test-fire was anti-aircraft missile

This photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency on Friday, shows a new type of anti-aircraft missile, developed by North Korea's Academy of Defense Science. The North test-fired it the previous day, according to the agency. [YONHAP]

This photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency on Friday, shows a new type of anti-aircraft missile, developed by North Korea's Academy of Defense Science. The North test-fired it the previous day, according to the agency. [YONHAP]

 
North Korea announced Friday it test-fired a new type of anti-aircraft missile the day before.
 
"The Academy of Defense Science conducted a test launch on Sept. 30 with the aim of confirming the operational practicality of the launcher, radar and comprehensive battle command vehicle along with confirming its comprehensive battle combat performance of the anti-aircraft missile that was newly developed,” the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday.
 
The test launch was reportedly guided by Pak Jong-chon, a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party, with other defense and science officials. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not present.
 
“The introduction of important new technologies, including twin-rudder control technology and the double-impulse flight engine, has proven the remarkable combat performance of the new anti-aircraft missile, which features rapid response, guided accuracy and a substantially-increased effective range of the missile,” the KCNA said.
 
It added, “This comprehensive test will be of great practical significance toward the research and development of the highly anticipated anti-aircraft missile system.”
 
North Korea's latest missile test came two days after it tested its new hypersonic missile, Hwasong-8. Hypersonic missiles reach speeds greater than Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound or about 3,836 miles per hour. These types of missiles were developed to avoid interception by the opponent, and only a few countries are in possession of such a weapon, such as the United States, Russia and China.
 
Following Pyongyang's announcement, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said it will take measures to ensure that the situation on the peninsula remains stable.
 
“We will continue with efforts to ensure that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is maintained stably through the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines and resumption of dialogue,” Cha Deok-cheol, deputy spokesperson at the Unification Ministry said during Friday’s briefing.
 
“We will closely monitor our military’s additional analysis and the North’s movements,” Cha added.
 
But the recent series of missile tests contradicts recent statements by the North that seemed to imply a hope for improved relations. Kim Jong-un, during his speech to the Supreme People's Assembly on Wednesday, expressed an intent to restore inter-Korean hotlines. His younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, also showed a conciliatory attitude towards the South in her recent statements.
 
Kim Jong-un also said in his administrative policy speech Wednesday, “We have no purpose or reason to provoke South Korea, or any idea of hurting it.”
 
Kim Yo-jong said in a statement Saturday that Pyongyang could take steps to improve relations with Seoul, including an inter-Korean summit and the reestablishment of the joint liaison office, if the South abandons its "hostility" and "double standards.”
 
The latest launch marked North Korea's seventh major weapons test this year, not long after tests of new cruise missiles over the weekend of Sept. 11-12 as well as two train-launched ballistic missiles on Sept. 15. North Korea also launched cruise missiles earlier in the year on Jan. 22 and March 21 and short-range ballistic missiles on March. 25.
 
The North, however, has insisted that the continued missile tests are in accordance with the five-year plan for the development of the defense science and the weapon system proposed at the Workers’ Party’s Eighth Party Congress in January, and is not a "provocation."
 
The North has bristled at characterizations of its weapons development program and associated tests as provocations.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
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