Kim Jong-un touts new "super-large" rocket launcher during latest flashy drill

Pyongyang, North Korea - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw firing drills involving "newly-equipped super-large" multiple rocket launchers, state media said Tuesday, a day after Seoul said Pyongyang had fired several short-range ballistic missiles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw live-fire drills featuring a "newly equipped" multiple rocket launcher.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw live-fire drills featuring a "newly equipped" multiple rocket launcher.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The US and South Korea wrapped up one of their major annual joint military exercises last week, prompting angry retorts and live-fire drills from nuclear-armed Pyongyang, which condemns all such exercises as rehearsals for invasion.

Seoul's military said Monday it had detected the launch of "multiple short-range ballistic missiles" by the North, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the South Korean capital for talks.

The super-large multiple rocket launcher, referred to as KN-25 by the Seoul-Washington military, is a short-range ballistic missile, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

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The North has claimed the weapon has the capability to be equipped with a tactical nuclear warhead.

Kim targets "collapse" of South Korean capital

North Korea claims its super-large multiple rocket launchers can be fitted with a tactical nuclear warheads.
North Korea claims its super-large multiple rocket launchers can be fitted with a tactical nuclear warheads.  © IMAGO / SOPA Images

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim guided the drills on Monday, testing the "real war capabilities" of 600-millimeter multiple rocket launchers as he stressed the importance of "war preparations".

The drills also involved simulating an aerial explosion of a shell from the super-large multiple rocket launcher at a predetermined altitude above the target, KNCA said.

Kim claimed the multiple rocket launcher would help the North "block and suppress the possibility of war with the constant perfect preparedness to collapse the capital of the enemy," according to the report.

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During the drills, North Korean artillerymen "demonstrated their excellent crack-shot artillery marksmanship and prompt and thorough combat readiness," it added.

"Massive shells of super-large multiple rocket launchers, which were fired from the sharp gun barrels like lava, flew to the target with the flame of annihilating the enemy," it said.

State media images showed Kim, wearing his customary black leather jacket, watching the drills with his generals and celebrating their apparent success with a raised fist.

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Pyongyang this month warned that Seoul and Washington would pay a "dear price" over their military exercises, and later announced that Kim had guided an artillery unit it says was capable of striking the South Korean capital.

Kim last week also oversaw paratroop drills aimed at showing his soldiers' ability to occupy an "enemy region at a stroke," according to state media.

Monday's ballistic missile test was the North's second this year, after Pyongyang launched one tipped with a maneuverable hypersonic warhead on January 14.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / SOPA Images & ZUMA Wire

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