North Korean state media is reporting that what was previously reported as “two short-range missile tests” by South Korea were actually long-range tests, which came on the same day US authorities seized a North Korean ship used to sell coal in violation of international sanctions.
State media announced early Friday (local time): “At the command post, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un learned about a plan of the strike drill of various long-range strike means and gave an order of start of the drill,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in English, as reported by Yonhap.
“The successful drill of deployment and strike designed to inspect the ability of rapid reaction of the defense units… showed the might of the units which were fully prepared to proficiently carry out any operation and combat,” the report added.
Kim stated he ordered the deeply provocative tests because “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty,” KCNA reported.
The precise location of the drills is as yet unknown, but South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency gave the following details:
The KCNA did not elaborate on what “long-range strike” means. But South Korea’s military said the North is believed to have launched two short-range missiles [in the prior launch] from its northwestern region into the East Sea, which flew 420 kilometers and 270 km, respectively.
Kim has reportedly been angered by the lack of progress in talks with Washington, and also by America’s decision to re-start military exercises with South Korea.
No doubt, Thursday’s seizure of the pariah state’s largest coal ship was a factor in this latest (what appears to be) ballistic missile test, the second in under a week.
It also comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has insisted that Washington must come around to the notion of undoing some of the sanctions, or else the North might resume its ICBM tests — a threat it appears Kim is already busy making good on.
Analysts said Thursday’s tests appeared to be ballistic missiles, according to the South China Morning Post, which is banned under UN resolutions.
It appears Kim is showing Trump that he too is prepared to “negotiate from the extremes” and is ready to break off talks altogether is the US is unwilling to budge on sanctions relief.