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Kim continues to let his missiles do the talking

North Korea test-fired two more missiles into the waters off its east coast on 16 August while rejecting any further talks with South Korea.

The two projectiles, which US and South Korean officials said were short-range ballistic missiles, were launched at around 0800 h local time and travelled 230 km, reaching an altitude of 30 km and a top speed of Mach 6.1, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The firings – the sixth such weapon test in less than a month – were an apparent response to a speech by South Korean President Moon Jae-in the previous day calling for reunification of the Korean Peninsula by 2045: the 100th anniversary of Korean independence.

A statement from Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) criticised Moon’s talk of dialogue and co-operation while still continuing with “joint military exercises at their full swing” aimed at “annihilating the main force of our army within 90 days”, remarking that “talk about ‘dialogue’ between the North and South under such a situation raises a question as to whether he has proper thinking [faculties]”.

The KCNA diatribe also went on to mention the “drones and fighters being purchased from the US”; North Korea has been particularly riled by the prospect of South Korea acquiring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The firings on 16 August followed North Korea’s test-firing of what it described as a “new” weapon into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on 10 August: a further indication that it continues to modernise its tactical missile systems.

The KCNA reported the following day that the test-firing, which was witnessed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, “proved that the new weapon system’s advantageous and powerful demand[s] of the design was perfectly met”.

The two missiles test-fired by North Korea on 10 August flew about 400 km and reached an altitude of about 48 km before falling into the East Sea, according to South Korea’s JCS. (KCNA)
The new missile test-fired by North Korea on 10 August somewhat resembles the Chinese-made King Dragon 300 missile and some of the missiles used by the US Army Tactical Missile System. (KCNA)

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