June 8, 2017 / 10:02 PM / 2 months ago

North Korea says leader Kim supervised test of new anti-ship missiles

FILE PHOTO - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA viaFile photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test launch of a new type of anti-ship cruise missiles that can accurately hit targets such as an enemy battleship, the country's official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

The new cruise rocket is "a powerful attack means capable of striking any enemy group of battleships attempting at military attack on the DPRK from the ground at will," KCNA said. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang launched what appeared to be several land-to-sea missiles early on Thursday off its east coast, which flew about 200 km (124 miles), South Korea's military said.

The missile launch came less than a week after the United Nations Security Council imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, and drew condemnation from South Korean President Moon Jae-in who has hoped to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

North Korea's official media routinely report on such missile launches the following day.

"The launched cruise rockets accurately detected and hit the floating targets on the East Sea of Korea after making circular flights," KCNA said, referring to the sea that divides the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The rocket, tested from a tracked mobile launcher, was a new weapon North Korea displayed for the first time in a military parade earlier this year, KCNA said. Experts said the new anti-ship missile has four launching canisters.

North Korea unveiled a number of new weapons at a massive military parade on April 15 to mark the anniversary of the birth of the state's founding leader and has since tested some of them.

Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been conducting missile tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the mainland United States.

The isolated country, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Reporting by Ju-min Park and Soyoung Kim; Editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish

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