North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a third weapons test this week in an effort to beef up the country’s ability to strike targets in South Korea, including U.S. military bases there.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on the test a day after South Korea’s military said it detected North Korea firing projectiles twice into the sea off its eastern coast in its third round of weapons tests in just over a week.
The tests are thought to be part of the effort to continue the pressure on Washington and Seoul over the recently stalled nuclear diplomacy. The North also objects to the planned joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises that the regime called the preparation for an invasion.
The regime’s media said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over Friday’s tests and claimed it confirmed the system’s “altitude control level flight performance, track changing capability, accuracy of hitting a target and warhead explosion power of the guided ordnance rocket.”
South Korea’s presidential office claimed the U.S. and South Korean militaries’ assessment said Friday’s launches were likely short-range ballistic missiles.
The South also concluded that the weapons tested on Wednesday are ballistic missiles even though the North described them as a “large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system.”
During the test on Friday, the projectile flew 220 kilometers (137 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, meaning it could reach the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Koreans live, and a major U.S. military base just outside the capital city.
The North Korean regime previously said the weapons tests were a “solemn warning” to “South Korean military warmongers” in the wake of the South’s purchase of high-tech, U.S.-made fighter jets and the planned joint military drill.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany on Friday condemned the North’s recent activity as violations of U.N. sanctions and urged the regime to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the U.S. on reducing its nuclear arsenal.
The three countries reiterated that sanctions on the country should remain in place until its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled.
In a separate report by KCNA, an unidentified spokesperson of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry slammed the three countries, saying that the regime never has and never will recognize the UN resolutions it sees as a “grave provocation” against its government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.