North Korean leader guides firing drill involving super-large multiple rocket launchers

Seoul: North Korea, on Friday, said it conducted a firing drill involving super-large multiple rocket launchers in a bid to demonstrate its resolve to stage a preemptive strike against South Korea if provoked.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised the “power demonstration firing” drill involving 600 mm multiple rocket launchers on Thursday, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The South Korean military said it detected the North’s launch of around ten short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea on Thursday. It was unusual for Pyongyang to fire a salvo of some ten missiles at a time, reports Yonhap news agency.

The KCNA said the drill was aimed at showing North Korea’s “corresponding will not to hesitate to carry out a preemptive attack by invoking the right to self-defence at any time when the enemies attempt to use military force against it.”

The North’s super-large multiple rocket launch system is classified as a short-range missile that could put the entire South Korean territory within range. Pyongyang has claimed a tactical nuclear warhead could be mounted on such a weapon.

The firing “will serve as an occasion in clearly showing what consequences our rivals will face if they provoke us,” Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

He stressed North Korea’s nuclear forces should be more “thoroughly” prepared in a bid to promptly and correctly carry out a mission of deterring a war.

Photos carried by state media showed 18 artillery shots being fired from multiple rocket launchers on transporter erector launchers (TELs).

The provocation came as North Korea made a botched attempt to launch a spy satellite on Monday. The North also sent hundreds of balloons carrying trash and manure into the South earlier this week in a “tit-for-tat” action against Seoul activists’ campaign of sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The KCNA said South Korea staged a “clumsy counteraction of dangerous armed demonstration” against the North’s legitimate exercise of the sovereign right in an apparent reference to the South’s latest aerial drills.

South Korea’s military staged an air exercise involving around 20 fighter jets on Monday near the border with North Korea, hours after North Korea informed Japan of a plan to launch a satellite by June 4.

North Korea has claimed that the development of a spy satellite is the exercise of its sovereign right to pursue a space development program. But any launch using ballistic missile technology by the North is a violation of the United Nations Security Council’s multiple resolutions against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“We strongly denounce North Korea for issuing menacing rhetoric and staging illegal provocations while repeatedly violating the UNSC resolutions and threatening to conduct a preemptive attack against us,” Kim In-ae, deputy spokesperson at Seoul’s unification ministry, told a press briefing.

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