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DPRK confirms test of new rocket system

China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-05 07:36

DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un watches the test-fire of two short-range ballistic missiles in this undated picture released by KCNA on July 26, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL-The Democratic People's Republic of Korea said on Saturday that it has tested its new rocket system again in launches conducted on Friday under leader Kim Jong-un's supervision.

The firing of "newly-developed large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system early in the Friday morning" was aimed to examine its capabilities, such as flight performance, track control ability and rate of hits, the state KCNA said.

Kim "expressed great satisfaction over the result of the test-fire," the report said.

The report came a day after Pyongyang fired two projectiles from Yonghung, South Hamgyong Province, into the East Sea, which Seoul said appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles. It was the third such launch in over a week.

The series of launches came ahead of a possible resumption of the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang following US President Donald Trump and Kim's impromptu meeting at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30.

Though the working-level talks, which had been expected to resume in mid-July, have not taken place, experts say Pyongyang is apparently trying to strengthen its negotiating leverage ahead of the talks' resumption, according to the ROK's Yonhap News Agency.

The new launches also came as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, following a closed UN Security Council briefing, condemned Pyongyang's recent ballistic activity as violations of UN sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful negotiations" with the US on eliminating its nukes. The three countries said international sanctions should remain in place until the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled.

In a separate report carried through KCNA on Saturday, a spokesperson for the DPRK's foreign ministry issued a statement slamming the UK, France and Germany for condemning its recent missile launches.

Describing its latest launches as "conventional weaponry development," the spokesperson said the DPRK decision to suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests is "goodwill and consideration for dialogue partner," not "part of acts to recognize" to UN resolutions.

The United States, meanwhile, has remained upbeat about the prospects for talks with the DPRK, with Trump saying on Friday the firings did not violate his agreement with Kim.

"Kim Jong-un and North Korea (the DPRK) tested 3 short range missiles over the last number of days," the president wrote on Twitter. "These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands."

A senior US State Department official also said on Friday that the US and the DPRK are in regular contact for resumption of their talks, adding that both expect the negotiations to start again soon, according to the Reuters.

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