North Korea tests new weapon that ‘will boost nuclear capabilities’

North Korea has test-fired a new type of tactical guided weapon ‘designed to boost its nuclear fighting capability’, according to state media reports.

It was the 13th round of weapons launches by Pyongyang this year and comes amid concern officials could soon resume nuclear testing during a time of international tension.

Kim Jong Un was pictured beaming as he observed the projectile, which is said to have flown about 68 miles (110km) with a maximum speed of under Mach 4.

The country’s leader is reported to have ‘given important instructions on further building up the defence capabilities and nuclear combat forces of the country’.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the weapon had ‘great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units, enhancing the efficiency in the operation of (North Korea’s) tactical nukes of and diversification of their firepower missions’.

It comes following surprise when the country opted not to show off its military weapons during a parade for Kim Jong Un’s grandfather’s birthday on Friday.

Typically, the big state anniversary is used to unveil provocative weapons systems.

North Korea said the most recent test launch was successful but did not say when it took place or what type of missile was involved.

But South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they had detected two projectile launches from the North’s eastern coastal town of Hamhung early on Saturday evening.

It comes after Kim Jong Un carried out the biggest intercontinental ballistic missile test of his reign last month.

The east Asian country has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006.

Satellite imagery suggests the nation could be preparing for a parade of weapons in the coming weeks.

It shows signs of new activity at a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, which North Korea said was demolished ahead of the first Trump-Kim summit in 2018.

Long-range and nuclear tests were paused while Kim engaged in talks with the former US president – but diplomacy collapsed after a year.

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