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CBRN Assessment

North Korea says missile launches practised hitting US bases in Japan

08 March 2017
North Korean state media released photographs on 7 March of what appears to be the launch of four ballistic missiles the previous day. Source: KCNA

North Korea's launch of four short-range ballistic missiles on 6 March was part of an exercise to strike US military bases in Japan, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, a daily of the Workers' Party of Korea, has reported.

North Korean state media released photographs on 7 March of what appears to be the launch of four ballistic missiles the previous day. (Rodong Sinmun)North Korean state media released photographs on 7 March of what appears to be the launch of four ballistic missiles the previous day. (Rodong Sinmun)

The country's leader, Kim Jong-un, supervised the drill, which was conducted by the "Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army's Hwasong artillery units ... tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan", wrote the paper on 7 March.

Rodong Sinmun also reported that Kim ordered the Strategic Force to keep "highly alert" as required by "the grim situation in which an actual war may break out anytime, and get fully ready to promptly move, take positions, and strike so that it can open fire to annihilate the enemies once the Central Committee [of the Workers' Party of Korea] issues an order".

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks past what appears to be an 8x8 transport-erector-launcher carrying a 'Scud'-like missile. (KCNA)North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks past what appears to be an 8x8 transport-erector-launcher carrying a 'Scud'-like missile. (KCNA)

Kim reportedly also tasked his officials to "continuously develop Korean-style, ultra-precision, and intellectually promoted rockets, and bolster them in quality and quantity", and said that he expects the Strategic Force to fulfil its duty as a "creditable nuclear force" of the party.

The four ballistic missiles launched by North Korea on 6 March landed within or close to Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what appears to have been a reaction to joint US-South Korean military drills on the Korean Peninsula.

The missiles were fired almost simultaneously at 0734 h local time from an area near the Tongchang-ri Missile and Space Launch Facility in North Korea's western North Pyongan Province.

It is estimated that all of the missiles travelled approximately 1,000 km before falling into the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea), about 300-350 km west of the Oga Peninsula of Akita Prefecture, according to Japanese and South Korean authorities.

Three of the missiles are believed to have fallen into waters that are part of Japan's EEZ, said the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo.

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