North Korean state news reported Sunday that Kim Jong Un observed a test firing of a newly designed tactical guided missile system that has implications for the totalitarian nation’s nuclear capabilities.
The state media propaganda report said that the new type of guided system is of “great significance in drastically improving” the nation’s long-range artillery units and enhancing the North Korean development of “tactical nukes.”
The report did not indicate when the claimed test occurred, although the state media normally reports on Kim Jong Un’s activities a day after they take place.
The reported test launch happened less than a month after North Korea restarted its intercontinental ballistic missile testing for the first time in five years. South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials have warned that there have been indications recently that North Korea has also resumed nuclear weapons testing.
The South Korean military said that it detected two projectiles fired off of the east coast of North Korea. The projectiles traveled around 68 miles at a maximum speed of just under 4 times the speed of sound.
North Korea conducted a huge public procession on Friday to mark the birthday of Kim’s grandfather and the nation’s founding leader, Kim Il-sung. The program included fireworks and choreographed dancing but there was no military parade.
U.S. and South Korean intelligence sources had indicated a weapons test could take place on the important North Korean anniversary. Analysts now caution that North Korea is preparing to carry out its seventh nuclear test soon. Images taken by satellites show activity at a tunnel at a known North Korean nuclear testing site. North Korea claimed the site was demolished in 2018 in preparation for the first meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump.
North Korea’s six previous nuclear weapons tests began in 2006 with the last test occurring in 2017. That test was of a hydrogen bomb with a yield estimated at 250 kilotons. Experts have said that the rogue nation is working on nuclear warheads small enough to deploy with the intercontinental ballistic missiles it has been developing for years.
April 25 is the next important date intelligence officials have pointed toward. That date is the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. On the same date, the U.S. and South Korea will be in the midst of a joint military exercise that begins on Monday.