On Tuesday, North Korea President Kim Jong-un ordered the development of more powerful strategic weapons, according to the state's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Kim reportedly made the request after overseeing a missile launch on Monday. KCNA disclosed that the missile was equipped with an advanced automated pre-launch sequence, unlike previous versions. This, the agency revealed, was an indication that the North had launched a modified Scud missile.
The test launch of the short-range ballistic missile, which landed in the sea off its east coast near Japan, was in direct defiance of the mounting international pressure and threats of increased sanctions.
Kim said the state would develop more powerful weapons, in multiple phases, in accordance with its timetable to defend North Korea against the United States. "Whenever news of our valuable victory is broadcasted, the Yankees would be very much worried about it and the gangsters of the south Korean puppet army would be dispirited more and more," KCNA cited Kim as saying.
According to the state news agency, the North Korean leader also stated that the country would make a greater leap forward in a bid to send a “bigger gift package” to the Americans. Monday's test was aimed at verifying a new type of precision guidance system and the reliability of a new mobile launch vehicle under different operational conditions, KCNA said.
Meanwhile, their neighbor to the south said it had conducted a joint drill with a U.S. supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber on Monday. The U.S. Navy added that its aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, also planned a drill with another nuclear carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.
North Korea viewed the U.S.'s announcement as preparation for war, while its state media accused the Americans of staging the drills to practice dropping nuclear bombs on the Korean peninsula.
U.S. President Donald Trump fingered the North's latest missile test as an affront to China. "North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile...but China is trying hard!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
Japan has also urged China to play a bigger role in restraining North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's top national security adviser, Shotaro Yachi, held talks with China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi, following the latest missile test. "Japan and China need to work together to strongly urge North Korea to avoid further provocative actions and obey things like United Nations resolutions," Yachi reportedly told Yang.
Contrastingly, North Korea declared that major advancements have been achieved with its rapid series of recent launches. But, South Korea's military and experts questioned the claim highlighting the North's technical constraints, such as a lack of satellites to properly operate a terminal-stage missile guidance system.