North Korea Claims Technological Progress in Latest Missile Launch

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Tuesday that the ballistic missile it tested this week could be launched much more quickly than others of its kind and that it could strike enemy ships and other targets with greater precision.

Pyongyang launched what South Korean officials called a Scud-type missile on Monday. It flew 280 miles before falling into waters near Japan.

On Tuesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the missile had been equipped with a new precision guidance system. It also had an advanced, automated prelaunch sequence, “markedly reducing the launching time,” the news agency said.

During the test on Monday, the missile demonstrated the capability to deliver its fin-controlled warhead within 23 feet of its target, the news agency said. When the missile was first unveiled during a military parade in April, the fins on its nose cone attracted the attention of missile analysts.

While the North’s attempts to develop longer-range missiles have caused considerable alarm, Pyongyang has also been striving to improve its Scud-based short- and medium-range missiles, which could strike targets in South Korea and Japan, including United States military bases and aircraft carriers that often sail in nearby waters.

The South Korean military said on Tuesday that it needed time to verify the North’s statement. It was the latest in a series of advances in missile technology claimed by North Korea in recent weeks.

So far this year, North Korea has conducted nine ballistic missile tests, some of which analysts later said demonstrated new technologies. Its midrange Pukguksong-2 used solid fuel, eliminating the need for a lengthy fueling process, which means it can be rolled out from a concealed location and launched quickly. The intermediate-range Hwasong-12, which the North tested on May 14, had a longer range than any missile it had launched before.

“Whenever news of our recent valuable victory is broadcast, the Yankees would be very much worried and the gangsters of the South Korean puppet army would get dispirited more and more,” the North’s news agency quoted the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, as saying after watching the launch on Monday.

Mr. Kim said the North would demonstrate its missile capabilities “in a multiphased and successive way under the timetable and road map worked out by the party” in order to “send a bigger ‘package of gifts’ to the Yankees.”

North Korea has repeatedly claimed that it could strike the continental United States with a nuclear warhead, but it has never tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that can fly across the Pacific. The Trump administration has been calling on China, North Korea’s main ally, to bring “maximum pressure and engagement” to stop the North from reaching that goal.

Two American aircraft carriers, the Carl Vinson and the Ronald Reagan, are engaging in exercises in the western Pacific, not far from the Korean Peninsula. Hours after the North’s missile test on Monday, two United States supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers conducted a drill over South Korea. The North’s statement on Tuesday noted these developments, referring to the flights as a “nuclear-bomb-dropping drill,” though Lancers are no longer nuclear-capable.