May 30, 2017 3:27 pm JST

North's latest missile controlled by precision guidance system: state media

Rocket landed near target; pre-launch process significantly faster, report says

KENICHI YAMADA, Nikkei staff writer

A new missile controlled by a precision guidance system is launched during a test, in this undated photo released by North Korean state media. © Kyodo

SEOUL -- North Korea's state media said on Tuesday that the country has successfully test-fired a new missile controlled by a precision guidance system under the oversight of leader Kim Jong Un.

The report did not say when the missile was launched. But it was apparently referring to a ballistic missile launched on Monday morning from a site near Wonsan in the eastern part of the country.

The missile struck within 7 meters of its target, the report said. The pre-launch process has been highly automated, to a greater extent than before, and a system that can launch missiles significantly more quickly has been completed, the report added.

The South Korean military and others believe it was a Scud short-range ballistic missile. If the report is true, North Korea has likely developed its short-range missiles enough that they can strike South Korea and parts of Japan.

The report is seen as designed to counter pressure from the U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump, who has deployed two aircraft carriers to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Following the successful launch, Kim reportedly said his country was letting the U.S. and its allies know about the North's power.

According to the Japanese government and others, the missile fell in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told journalists on Tuesday that he believes North Korea has made a certain level of technological progress.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said, "Japan needs to duly prepare its missile defense system." The minister also said analysis of images released by the North Korean state agency showed a launch pad and a rocket with a warhead and wings that can be controlled. The fire from the missile was typical of that caused by burning liquid fuel, she said.

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