July 31, 2019 / 10:05 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-N.Korea's test firing verified combat effectiveness of new rocket system -KCNA

(Adds quotes, details of nuclear envoys meeting)

By Josh Smith

SEOUL, Aug 1 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday oversaw the first test firing of a “new-type large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system”, North Korean state media reported on Thursday.

The test verified the combat effectiveness of the overall system, and Kim predicted “it would be an inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon”, state news agency KCNA said.

The rocket system “will play a main role in ground military operations”, KCNA reported.

The report comes a day after the South Korean military said North Korea fired at least two missiles from its east coast into the sea.

Wednesday’s launches were from the Wonsan area on North Korea’s eastern coast, from which last week’s missiles had been fired, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The JCS said later the North had fired ballistic missiles that flew about 250 km (155 miles).

Britain, Germany and France have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet behind closed doors on Thursday on North Korea’s latest missile launches, diplomats said.

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban ballistic missile launches by North Korea, and the test firing comes as American and South Korean diplomats press the country to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.

Pyongyang is subject to extensive international sanctions over those programmes.

South Korean nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon met with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian security forum in Bangkok, to exchange views on the missile test and vowed diplomatic efforts for an early restart of working level denuclearisation talks, South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The United States does not plan to make changes to an upcoming military drill with South Korea, a senior U.S. defence official said on Wednesday, despite a series of recent North Korean missile launches intended to pressure Seoul and Washington to halt the joint exercises. (Reporting by Josh Smith; additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in BANGKOK; editing by Chris Reese and G Crosse)

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