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North Korea tests new guided rocket launcher system in latest threat to Seoul

North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a new guided multiple rocket launcher system for 240 millimeter-caliber artillery shells, state-run media reported on Monday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a new guided multiple rocket launcher system for 240 millimeter-caliber artillery shells, state-run media reported on Monday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (UPI) — North Korea tested a new “controllable shell and ballistic control system” for multiple rocket launchers, state media reported Monday, as the isolated state keeps up a flurry of weapons launches on a tense Korean Peninsula.

The North’s Academy of Defense Science conducted a test-firing of 240 millimeter-caliber rocket shells using the new system on Sunday, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

“The development of 240mm-caliber controllable multiple rocket launcher shell and its ballistic control system will make a qualitative change in our army’s multiple rocket launcher force,” the KCNA report said.

After the test, the launcher “will be reevaluated and its role in battlefields [will] be increased,” the report added.

The South Korean military detected the launches from the west coast toward the Yellow Sea on Sunday, sources told news agency Yonhap.

The test was the latest in a series of provocations by North Korea, which has raised inter-Korean tensions to their highest in years.

Last month, Pyongyang fired more than 200 artillery shells near the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea, prompting evacuation orders on two South Korean islands. In a policy address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the maritime border, known as the Northern Limit Line, “illegal” and warned the South that any violation of its territory would be considered a “war provocation.”

The guidance system on the 240mm artillery shells would improve their range and accuracy, increasing the threat to targets such as South Korean capital Seoul, which is roughly 30 miles away from the border with the North.

In January 2023, Kim announced the deployment of a 600mm multiple rocket launcher that could be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons and would have the whole of South Korea within its range.

The North Korean leader repeated his threats against Seoul last week, warning that Pyongyang would “not hesitate to mobilize all the superpowers at our disposal to put an end to them” if provoked.

In a speech at a military anniversary ceremony Thursday, Kim referred to South Korea as the “most harmful and primary enemy of our country” and said the North had the “legality to attack and destroy at any time.”

While North Korea has turned away from any diplomatic engagement with Seoul and Washington, it has strengthened ties with Russia and is believed to be supplying Moscow with artillery and missiles for its war against Ukraine.

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