NKorea reports ‘super-large’ rocket launch

By AAP Newswire

North Korea says the weapon it test-fired this week was a super-large multiple rocket launcher similar to the one tried out by the regime in August.

In a statement on Wednesday, the state news agency KCNA described the rocket launcher as "super large" and said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was present at the launch.

However, it did not declare the test a success, prompting analysts to speculate that the weapon did not work properly.

Images released by KCNA show Kim overseeing the launch, accompanied by his sister and top aide Kim Yo-jong, and what appears to be a system with four 600mm launch tubes mounted on a mobile platform.

In addition, the photos reveal that North Korea was able to test three rockets even though South Korean and United States military authorities only detected the launch of two.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff had said on Tuesday that North Korea fired two unidentified short-range projectiles towards the Sea of Japan from Kaechon city in South Pyongan province, about 75km north of the capital, Pyongyang.

The total distance covered by the two projectiles was around 330km and they reportedly reached an altitude of about 50 to 60km.

Given this and the fact that KCNA has not highlighted the success of the test as it has done on other occasions, it is believed that North Korea did conduct the launch of a third missile but that it was unsuccessful.

This is the 10th test conducted by North Korea this year after a 17-month hiatus by the Kim's regime during negotiations with the US.

Weapons tests carried out in the last two months coincided with joint military exercises by South Korea and the US that were emphatically protested against by the North.

The latest test came only a few hours after North Korea's first deputy foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, in a statement said that Pyongyang was willing to set a date for a discussion with the US later this month.

The statement marked a breakthrough when it comes to potentially ending a deadlock in nuclear talks between North Korea and the US.

However, the projectile launch soon after Choe's statement is being interpreted as one more attempt by North Korea to gain leverage and build pressure on starting the dialogue.