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(LEAD) N.K. says leader watches launch of new anti-ship cruise missile

All News 07:26 June 09, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more details. photo throughout)

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has observed the test-firing of a new surface-to-ship cruise missile, Pyongyang's state media said Friday, as the country is seeking to diversify its nuclear weapons and missiles.

The country conducted the first test of the missile, which was unveiled at a military parade in April to mark the 105th birthday of late state founder Kim Il-sung, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

On Thursday, the North fired what appeared to be short-range anti-ship cruise missiles from its east coast in the latest series of missile tests in defiance of international sanctions, according to the South Korean military. They flew some 200 kilometers.

The missile, whose capacity has been improved compared with the existing weaponry system, is a powerful weapon capable of hitting the enemy's ships from the ground, the KCNA said.

It was developed by the Academy of National Defense Science, a blacklisted agency by the United Nations over its role in supporting North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

It marked the fifth missile test-fire by the North since liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office May 10.

Pyongyang has recently launched different types of missiles, including a new intermediate-range ballistic missile and a surface-to-air missile.

The provocations are expected to dampen Moon's dual-track approach of denuclearizing North Korea while seeking inter-Korean dialogue. He hosted his first National Security Council meeting Thursday, warning that Seoul will never back down in the face of the North's provocations.

The latest test came about a week after the U.N. Security Council adopted a fresh sanctions resolution over its missiles. The North is banned from testing ballistic missiles under a set of U.N. sanctions.

North Korea is developing nuclear and missile programs at an alarming pace with its stated goal of launching a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.


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