11/29/2019, 15.17
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Following tests, North’s latest weapon system closer to becoming operational

A multiple rocket launcher is North Korea’s newest weapon with most of South Korea within its range. Yesterday, it carried out a fourth test, raising concerns among experts because of shorter time interval between each single launch.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea is closer to having an impressive multiple rocket launcher, South Korean experts warn a day after Pyongyang’s latest test. However, questions remain over the system’s reliability and precision.

Yesterday, North Korea fired two short-range projectiles from Yeonpo (South Hamgyong province) into the East Sea, flying for about 380 kilometres at a maximum altitude of about 97 km, this according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Yesterday’s was the fourth test of the system, following other tests on 24 August, 10 September and 31 October.

Whilst few differences were spotted in the flight ranges and the maximum altitudes of the projectiles fired from the system so far, the interval between the projectiles fired this time was much shorter. The gap between the two was only 30 seconds, compared to 17 minutes in the first test, 19 minutes in the second, and three minutes in the third.

“The primary purpose of the latest test is to verify its continuous-fire system, and the 30-second interval means that North Korea was quite successful in securing the capabilities that its leader Kim Jong-un has called for,” said Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Korea Defence Security Forum in Seoul.

For Prof Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University, “Now that it also proved the successive firing system, North Korea appears to be prepared soon for mass production and deployment”.

The projectiles in all four tests are believed to have been fired from land, with the launcher fixed on the ground. Now “The North also needs tests to verify its precision, as well as to ensure if it is reliable enough to be used for field operations," Shin said.

The launcher is thought to be a 600-millimetre calibre one, with a maximum range of around 400 kilometres, putting most of South Korea within its reach. It is one of the five new types of weapons North Korea showed off during the 13 rounds of tests so far this year.

Testing began in May after an 18-month hiatus in the wake of the failure of the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim over denuclearisation and sanctions.

The two sides held talks last month for the first time since the breakdown, but have not yet managed to reach any tangible progress.

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