North Korea has carried out a test of what is says was a new guided weapon designed to improve tactical nuclear operations.
The test took place on April 17 and saw two missiles launch from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into the East Sea.
North Korea’s 13th missile test of the year test followed the commemoration of the anniversary of its founder Kim Il-sung on Friday.
The US, and North Korea’s neighbors South Korea and Japan, had expected the North to carry out an underground nuclear test, which is why a US Navy carrier strike group was operating off North Korea for first time since 2017 this week. However, increased military presence off its coast did not deter North Korea from carrying out the launch.
According to South Korea’s defense ministry, the two missiles tested on Saturday flew for an estimated 110 kilometers and reached a top speed of Mach 4.
North Korea’s mouthpiece, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said the new weapon has “great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units, enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes of and diversification of their firepower missions.”
While KCNA did not reveal the name of the system that was tested, observers believe the new missile could be a smaller version of the nuclear-capable KN-23 missile, which itself was tested in February this year. The KN-23 has an estimated range of 400 to 600 km and is reportedly capable of executing “pull-up” maneuvers in the terminal phase of its flight, making it harder to intercept.