North Korea has fired another short-range projectile in the Sea of Japan from an area near its eastern coast earlier today. Pyongyang launched the projectile as a response to the ongoing military drills between South Korea and the United States, according to South Korean officials. Kim Jong-Un believes the military drills are a rehearsal for a future invasion.
The projectile was launched near the North Korean port city of Wonsan at 17:40 (08:40 GMT) and traveled northeast for about 200 kilometers over the sea before hitting a land target, according to the Yonhap News Agency. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) believes that due to the distance and trajectory traveled, the projectile might have been fired from new North Korean multiple rocket launcher system (MLRS).
North Korea launched the projectile as part of the “final test-fire” of its MLRS, suggesting the system is ready to be fielded by the Korean People’s Army.
The KN-09 MLRS is capable of firing a 300mm rocket at a maximum distance of 200 kilometers. The rockets can theoretically reach Seoul and its surrounding area, where more than 50 million South Koreans live.
Pyongyang has bolstered military testing since the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) toughened sanctions against the Regime earlier this month. It also justifies its multiple launch on ongoing South Korea-U.S. military exercises. In fact, North Korea has conducted six rocket and missile launches, including short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles since the start of March.
Washington and Seoul say the drills are purely defensive and have no plans to invade North Korea. Moscow and Beijing also express concerns over rising tensions in the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions but believes the U.S. should not use the situation as a pretext to deploy a missile shield in the region. Russia and China also said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un should yield to the UNSC demands, giving him the ability to return to the negotiation table.