Asia/Pacific

North Korea says it has tested another rocket launcher system

North Korea said Saturday morning local time that leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a test of a new multiple rocket launcher system that has the potential to boost the nation’s ability to strike U.S. military bases in South Korea. 

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency was the first to report the test, which comes a day after North Korea test fired a short-term projectile for the third time in just over a week.

{mosads}The report said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the tests, adding it affirmed the system’s “altitude control level flight performance, track changing capability, accuracy of hitting a target and warhead explosion power of the guided ordnance rocket.”

It did not include any mention of the U.S. or South Korea.

South Korea’s presidential office had said the U.S. and South Korean militaries shared an assessment that the launches appeared to be of short-range ballistic missiles, according to The Associated Press.

Saturday’s tests came briefly after the United Kingdom, France and Germany condemned North Korea’s recent launches as violations of United Nations sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the Trump administration to eliminate its nuclear stockpile. 

It is speculated that North Korea’s recent tests are intended to pressure Washington and Seoul amid stalled negotiations over its nuclear and missile programs.

The White House has expressed optimism about its ability to negotiate with Kim but has maintained stringent sanctions on Pyongyang. 

President Trump has appeared unbothered by the recent tests, saying they’re “standard.”

“Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that. I have no problem,” he told reporters this week. “We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles, they’re very standard.”

The president doubled down on his defense of Kim on Friday, calling him a “friend” and adding that while the tests may violate United Nations resolutions, his personal relationship with the North Korean strongman could prevent further escalations.

“Chariman [sic] Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true,” Trump tweeted. “He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!”

Trump and Kim have held two nuclear summits, with the second in Vietnam ending early after talks broke down.

Tags Donald Trump Kim Jong Un
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