North Korea declares medium-range missile ready for deployment

North Korea on Monday declared its medium-range Pukguksong-2 missile ready for deployment after a weekend test, the latest step in its quest to defy UN sanctions and develop an intercontinental rocket capable of striking US targets.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw Sunday’s launch, which sparked a fresh chorus of international condemnation and threats of tougher sanctions.

The missile tested was the Pukguksong-2, which uses solid fuel that allows for immediate firing, KCNA said.

So far almost all the North’s missiles have been liquid-fuelled, which have to be painstakingly filled with propellant before launch, while solid fuel missiles can be fired far more rapidly.

That would dramatically shorten the time available for any attempt to intervene and prevent a launch, requiring any such decision to be taken much more quickly.

Seoul military officials have previously said the Pukguksong-2 — a land-based version of Pyongyang’s submarine-launched weapon — uses solid fuel.

Kim said “with pride” that the Pukguksong-2 was a “very accurate” missile and a “successful strategic weapon”, KCNA said, adding he “approved the deployment of this weapon system for action”.

The launch “completely verified” the reliability and accuracy of the device, and its late-stage warhead guidance system, KCNA said, adding the test results were “perfect”.

Images carried by the Rodong Sinmun — the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea — showed a smiling Kim clapping surrounded by his aides in an outdoor observation post as the missile shot up into the air.

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