SEOUL, South Korea (AP) â€” North Korea said Saturday that leader Kim Jong Un supervised another test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt to pressure Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint military exercises.
Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said that following Friday’s launches, Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over his military’s “mysterious and amazing success rates” in recent testing activity and vowed to build up “invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke.” The report did not mention any specific comment about the United States or South Korea.
The launches were North Korea’s sixth round of tests since late July that revealed developments of a new rocket artillery system and two separate short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that experts say would expand its ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there.
KCNA did not describe what Friday’s weapons were or how they performed, but said that the tests were successful and strengthened the military’s confidence in the reliability of the system.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos that showed what appeared to be a missile soaring from a launcher installed on a vehicle and striking what appeared to be a coastal target. Kim is seen jubilantly raising his fist while celebrating with military officials.
“(Kim) said everyone should remember that it is the (ruling) party’s core plan and unwavering determination to build a powerful force strong enough to discourage any forces from daring to provoke us and to leave any opponent defenseless against our Juche weapons of absolute power even in situations of physical clashes,” KCNA said, referring to the North’s national ideology of self-reliance.
In a separate statement on Saturday, KCNA berated the ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills as an invasion rehearsal that compels North Korea to constantly develop “powerful physical means and their deployment for an actual war.”
The United States has downsized its major military exercises with South Korea and halted dispatches of strategic assets such as long-range bombers and aircraft carriers to the region since the first summit between Kim and President Donald Trump last year. But North Korea says even the smaller drills violate agreements between the leaders.
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