March 26 (UPI) — The short-range rockets North Korea launched on Thursday are likely KN-23 missiles that are difficult to intercept in South Korea, the country most vulnerable to short-range missile attacks.
Pyongyang’s state-controlled KCNA reported Friday the regime’s Academy of National Defense Science test-fired “new-type tactical guided projectiles” on Thursday.
Early Thursday, local time, Seoul confirmed North Korea fired two projectiles from South Hamgyong Province. In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden said the tests violated U.N. Resolution 1718 and warned Pyongyang of “responses.”
Shin Jong-woo, secretary general of the Korea Defense and Security Forum in Seoul, said the improved model North Korea was referring to is likely an upgraded version of the KN-23 Iskander missile.
North Korea may have increased the length of the rocket’s fuselage by 1 meter, which also increases its range, Shin said, according to Newsis on Friday.
Shin also said North Korea claimed the improved model can be equipped with a nuclear warhead that weighs as much as 2.5 tons. The warhead’s diameter and launch pad width have not changed significantly, however, Shin said.
Kim Se-il, a director at a research institute under Seoul’s Defense Agency for Technology and Quality, told Newsis the North Korean rocket is “very difficult to intercept” because it descends at an altitude of 25 to 30 miles and displays different flight patterns and other types of “evasive maneuvers.”
South Korea’s missile defense capabilities include a medium range surface-to-air missile system, the KM-SAM, the Patriot Advanced Capability-2, or PAC-2. Plans also are underway in Seoul to deploy the L-SAM by the mid-2020s. The L-SAM intercepts missiles at an altitude of 25 to 37 miles.
Kim Jong Un may have not been present at the test firing of the missiles on Thursday.
Korean Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Friday Kim conducted field guidance at construction sites in Pyongyang.
Kim has ordered the construction of 800 apartments in a new residential district. The homes are to be awarded to loyal “innovators and scientists,” according to North Korean state media.