North Korea confirmed Friday it tested a “super large multiple rocket launcher,” confirming the latest reminder of Pyongyang’s end-of-year deadline for nuclear talks.
It is North Korea’s 13th round of weapons tests since early May, making 2019 one of its busiest years for missile tests. The test involved the KN-25 multiple rocket launch system, a short-range weapons system that Pyongyang has tested several times this year.
South Korea’s military said the North fired two projectiles, which traveled about 380 kilometers at an altitude of 97 kilometers before splashing into the Sea of Japan ocean.
Kim Jong Un has given the USA until the end of the year to make concessions in nuclear talks that have been stalled since February 2019.
By repeatedly testing the KN-25, defense analysts say North Korea has successfully reduced the amount of time it takes to launch successive rockets from the system.
“The faster it fires, the quicker it can out of dodge before counter-fire arrives,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert in nuclear nonproliferation with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterrey.
During the first two tests of the KN-25 in August and September, it took between 15 and 20 minutes between launches.
In a subsequent October test, that number was reduced to 3 minutes. On Thursday, Seoul’s military estimated there were only 30 seconds between shots. The latest launch came as the United States began celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but have failed to make any progress on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Talks have been stalled since February, when a summit in Hanoi between Kim and Trump ended in a disagreement over how to pace sanctions relief with steps to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program.
Almost all of North Korea’s missile test this year have been short range. Trump has said he has “no problem” with North Korea’s short-range launches, since they cannot reach the United States.
Global Security Organization / ABC Flash Point News 2019.