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Friday, January 27, 2023

Pyongyang to ‘deploy super-large rocket launcher’ after tests

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A test firing of a “super-large” multiple rocket launcher by North Korea was a final review of the weapon’s combat application, Pyongyang has said.

It is likely North Korea is preparing to mass produce and deploy the new weapons system soon.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KNCA) said leader Kim Jong Un expressed “great satisfaction” over the results of the test-firing.

“The volley test-fire aimed to finally examine the combat application of the super-large multiple launch rocket system proved the military and technical superiority of the weapon system and its firm reliability,” KCNA said.

South Korea’s military said North Korea fired two projectiles into its eastern waters on Thursday and expressed “strong regret” over the launches and urged North Korea to stop escalating tensions.

It was the fourth test-launch of projectiles from the multiple rocket launcher since August.

Some experts say the flight distance and trajectory of projectiles fired from the launcher show they are virtually missiles or missile-classed weapons.

The projectiles fired on Thursday flew about 380 kilometres (235 miles) at a maximum altitude of 97 kilometres (60 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the projectiles ballistic missiles.

North Korea has fired other new weapons in recent months in what some experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from the United States in stalled nuclear diplomacy while upgrading its military capabilities.

A US-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear program in return for political and economic benefits remains largely at a stalemate since the February collapse of a summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam.

Most of the North Korean weapons tested since the Vietnam summit were short-range.

The focus has now shifted as to whether North Korea resumes nuclear and long-range missile tests if MrTrump fails to meet a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to offer new proposals to salvage the negotiations.

Mr Trump considers North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests a major foreign policy win.

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