North Korea Fires ‘Super-Large’ Rockets in to the Sea of Japan

March 19, 2024 3:49 PM
KCNA Photo

North Korea on Monday conducted firings of its “super-large multiple rocket launchers” in its western region, overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reported North Korean state media on Tuesday.

The Multiple Rocket Launchers (MRLs) fired were the 600-mm KN-25 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)/MRL system, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. Along with a salvo firing, a single launch was carried out with the missile primed to explode in midair. KCNA released photos of Kim watching the drill, as well as photos of six launchers simultaneously firing a single missile, for a salvo of six missiles, and photos of the Sea of Japan being struck by the missiles.

KCNA also reported that Kim said the destructive offensive capabilities of North Korea’s army should be fulfilled thoroughly in blocking and deterring the possibility of war, and also prepared to “collapse the capital of the enemy and the structure of its military forces.”

The launch on Monday followed the Thursday conclusion of the U.S.-South Korean exercise Freedom Shield 24. North Korea conducted no launches during the exercise but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally oversaw artillery firing, tank and airborne assault drills while calling on his military to be prepared for the possibility of war occurring.

Monday’s launches also occurred while Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Seoul for a democracy summit. In a press briefing at the Department of State that day, the U.S. condemned the launches. “These launches, like all other ballistic missile launches in recent years, are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. They pose a threat to regional and international peace and security, and we continue to consult closely with the Republic of Korea, Japan, and other allies and partners about the best way to engage the DPRK, deter aggression, and coordinate international responses to the DPRK’s violations of multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” said State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command issued a short statement on Monday about the launch. “We have assessed these events did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory. The United States condemns these launches and calls on the DPRK to refrain from any further destabilizing acts,” read the statement.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Monday stated the South Korea military detected several SRBMs fired to the East Sea from the vicinity of North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang on that day from around 7:44 a.m. to 8:22 a.m, and that the North Korean missiles traveled about 300 m before impacting in the East Sea. The JCS also said South Korea’s military immediately detected, tracked and monitored the North Korean missile launch, shared relevant information with the U.S. and Japan and is analyzing the details. The JCS also strongly condemned the launch as a clear act of provocation that threatens the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. “Our military will continue to closely monitor North Korea’s various activities and maintain the capability and readiness to overwhelmingly respond to any provocation under the strong U.S.-ROK joint defense posture,” read the release.

On Monday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense stated that North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward the northeast from near North Korea’s west coast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. that day that fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), near the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. The first two missiles were both launched at around 7:44 a.m., while the third was launched at 8:21 a.m. All three missiles flew for an approximate distance of 350 km and at a maximum altitude of about 50 km according to the statement.

The MOD also stated that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave instructions to Defense Minister Minoru Kihara to make every effort to collect and analyze information in close cooperation with the U.S., South Korea and other countries, and to continue to take all possible measures for vigilant monitoring in preparation for unforeseen circumstances.

In a Tuesday press conference, Defense Minister Kihara stated that the Japanese government believes North Korea may continue to engage in further provocations, and Japan will continue to collect and analyze information in cooperation with the United States, South Korea and other countries, and will maintain vigilant surveillance.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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