North Korea Keeps Showing the World Why Its Long-Range Artillery Is a Threat

North Korea on Oct. 31, 2019 fired two rockets from its new “super-large” multiple rocket launch system, potentially escalating tension between Washington and Pyongyang as talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program stall out.

The projectiles launched from Pyongannam-do, a province around Pyongyang, The New York Times reported. The munitions flew up to 230 miles before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement.

The hermit state earlier had tested apparently the same 370-millimeter-diameter rockets in September and August 2019, explained Gabriel Dominguez Cespedes, an editor at Jane’s.

“When North Korea first tested its super-large MRL system on Aug. 24, each of the two projectiles flew about 380 kilometers at a top speed of Mach 6.5 and reached an altitude of about 97 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan,” Dominguez Cespedes wrote.

The “super-large” MRL system, which is comprised of an eight-by-eight launcher vehicle fitted with four launch tubes, was then tested on Sept. 10 from an area in North Korea’s western city of Kaechon, South Pyongan Province, with the two projectiles flying about 330 kilometers and reaching an altitude of around 50 to 60 kilometers, according to the [South Korean joint chiefs of staff].

The caliber of the projectiles used in the “super-large” MRL appears to be larger than 370 millimeters. The weapons, which both South Korea and Japan refer to as short-range ballistic missiles, seem to have small control surfaces on their noses: a feature seen on guided artillery rockets used in North Korea and other countries.

The latest test-firings come after the South Korean military kicked off its annual “Hoguk” field training exercise on Oct. 28, which it says is purely defensive in nature. The two-week-long drills began at the same time as South Korea’s “Taeguk” command-post exercise.

“The projectiles were the first such weapons that North Korea had tested since the country fired its Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile on Oct. 2 into waters off Japan,” The New York Times reporter Choe Sang-Hun explained. ‘It was the 12th time since early May that the North had tested ballistic missiles or other projectiles.”

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