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Kim Jong Un inspects new missile system amid growing military ties with Russia

SEOUL, May 15 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a new tactical missile system and called for a “historic shift” in war preparations, state media reported Wednesday, as the authoritarian regime continues to ramp up production of weapons likely to be intended for sale to Russia.

Kim “on Tuesday familiarized himself with the tactical missile weapon system that will be newly equipped by the Korean People’s Army’s combined missile units tasked with a major firing mission,” the central news agency reported Korean.

North Korean arms factories have “completed their munitions projects for the first half of the year and will realize their plans for producing tactical missile weapon systems” by the end of the year, according to the KCNA report.

No further details about the new system were provided.

The inspection came two days after state media reported that Kim visited munitions factories producing sniper rifles and vehicles for transporting several rocket launcher systems. Last week, he oversaw the test firing of controllable shells for an updated version of the North’s 240mm multiple rocket launcher system.

Speculation is growing that North Korea will conduct tests and ramp up weapons production in anticipation of sales to Russia and other buyers. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff called an artillery firing exercise last month a potential “performance demonstration…for export.”

Washington and its allies have long accused North Korea of ​​sending weapons to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in exchange for fuel, raw materials and technological assistance. In March, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said the North had already sent 7,000 containers of munitions to Russia.

Pyongyang and Moscow deny the accusations, but the use of North Korean missiles on the battlefield in Ukraine has been documented as early as January.

Over the weekend, South Korea’s top intelligence agency told local media it was investigating allegations that North Korean 122mm artillery shells made in the 1970s appeared on the spot. battle in Ukraine.


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