Following the launch of a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the missile’s mass production and eventual deployment, the nation’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Monday. According to the news outlet, Kim approved the missile “for action” after praising its accuracy, saying it should be “rapidly mass produced in a serial way.”
Despite receiving a satisfactory response from Kim, Sunday’s launch was not the most successful to date. On May 14, North Korea launched a new type of intermediate-range missile called Hwasong-12, which is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead. The missile went further and flew higher than any previous launch, reaching a distance of 430 miles and an altitude of more than 1,245 miles. By contrast, South Korean officials reported that Sunday’s missile flew 310 miles and reached an altitude of 348 miles. While Hwasong-12 relies on liquid fuel and was launched from the ground, Sunday’s missile, known as Pukguksong-2, relies on solid fuel and was launched from a mobile vehicle. This allows it to be pre-loaded with fuel and moved to a launch site, cutting down on the time it takes to fire an attack.
Sunday’s test launch aimed to see how the missile would fare under battle conditions. North Korea is known to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (IBCM) capable of reaching U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. In August, KCNA quoted Kim as saying that the U.S. mainland and its “operational theater in the Pacific” are within “striking range.” In February, a North Korean ambassador told the United Nations that the missile tests are “self-defense measures to protect national sovereignty and the safety of [North Koreans] against direct threats by hostile forces.”