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Kim inspects new tactical missile system

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected a new tactical missile system and called for “epochal changes” in war preparations, Asian media reported.

Kim “acquainted  with the tactical missile system that composite missile units of the Korean People’s Army carrying out an important firing mission will use” state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The North’s weapons factories have “fulfilled their munitions plans for the first half of the year and will carry out the plans for the production of tactical missile weapon system” by the end of the year, the KCNA report said.

The inspection came two days after state media reported that Kim visited ammunition factories producing sniper rifles and vehicles for transporting multiple rocket launchers.

Last week, he oversaw the test firing of guided projectiles for an upgraded version of North Korea’s 240-millimetre multiple rocket launcher system.

There has been speculation that North Korea is testing and ramping up weapons production ahead of sales to various countries. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff called last month’s artillery drills a potential “demonstration of characteristics … for export.”

Escalating tensions in the region

The Korean crisis of 2023-2024 was a period of heightened tension between North Korea and South Korea. 28 December 2023, when North Korea’s state media reported that Pyongyang’s military sector would further accelerate preparations for war in the face of US Navy exercises.

Throughout 2023, tensions between the Koreas increased as North Korea conducted several missile tests and made bellicose statements. In December, North Korea launched a long-range ICBM capable of reaching the US.

Meanwhile, on December 17, North Korea’s defence ministry announced that Washington, D.C., and Seoul would end the year with a “preview of nuclear war.”

Later, the US responded by strengthening its assets in the region, including sending the nuclear submarine USS Missouri to Busan in mid-December 2023. On 19 December, the US, Japan, and South Korea jointly announced that they had activated a real-time data-sharing mechanism to monitor North Korea’s missile activity.

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