03/30/2020, 10.57
KOREA
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Pyongyang Tests 'super large' rocket launchers. Seoul says weapons previously tested

South Koreans: 'A system similar to that shown last August was tested.' Yesterday's major weapons test is the fourth in this month. According to observers, the regime wants to strengthen its grip on power amid fears over the spread of the new coronavirus. Pyongyang has not yet responded to the US aid offer.

 

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agency) - North Korea has tested multiple "super-large" rocket launchers, state media announced today. But according to the Joint Command (Jcs) of the Armed Forces of Seoul, the "super-large" multiple rocket launcher would seem more similar to the "large caliber" multiple-launch remote-controlled rocket system, presented by Pyongyang already last August.

Yesterday, the South Korean military said that the missiles left the eastern coastal city of Wonsan. The missiles flew 230 km, with a maximum altitude of 30 km. The regime’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reveals that the test was designed " to verify once again the tactical and technological specifications of the launch system to be delivered to units of the Korean People's Army ". "The testing was successfully conducted," it added. KCNA does not specify whether leader Kim Jong-un supervised the launch, nor does it give details of the weapon and where the test took place.

North Korea carried out a series of tests on weapons and artillery exercises this year. Except for the latter, which were small in size, yesterday's launch marks the fourth major weapons test this month. Kim has participated in all three previous tests. About a week ago, the North launched two short-range ballistic missiles, termed a newly developed "guided tactical weapon".

According to KCNA, Ri Pyong-chol, vice president of the Central Committee of the Workers Party, led the test yesterday. He is quoted as saying: "The operational deployment of the weapon system of super-large multiple rocket launchers is a crucial work of very great significance in realizing a new strategic intention of the Party Central Committee for national defense."

Observers say that the recent military moves of the North seem mainly aimed at strengthening the grip on power, amid fears about the spread of the new coronavirus and the economic difficulties caused by the prolonged regime of international sanctions. Pyongyang has launched an all-out campaign to stop the pandemic on national soil. Although the regime claims that it has no case of contagion, skeptics say it can actually hide an outbreak and desperately need outside help.

Sunday's launch comes a week after North Korea revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump had sent a letter to leader Kim offering assistance in the fight against coronavirus. The North expressed gratitude but warned against misjudging the ties between the two countries, relying only on the personal relations of their leaders. Pyongyang has not yet responded to Washington's offer of help.

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