The latest missile launch by communist North Korea on Monday was supervised by none other than supreme leader Kim Jong Un, who apparently couldn’t be happier about the country’s recent progress when it comes to ballistic weapons.
Photos released Tuesday by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency showed a gleeful Kim watching tests of the new ballistic missiles from this weekend and others in weeks past. The missile tested Monday was controlled by a precision guidance system, and Kim has ordered even more powerful strategic weapons. He was photographed sitting behind his desk, laughing with officers as the missile test ended successfully.
Experts say with every test — whether it’s successful or not — North Korea gets closer to its goal of building a missile that could reach the U.S. Kim has promised to continue the missile tests, hoping to soon have the technology to threaten the U.S.
"He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger 'gift package' to the Yankees" in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to a Reuters report.
The short-range ballistic missle launched Monday traveled an estimated 248 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan.
Kim has been ramping up missile testing in recent weeks. So far in 2017, North Korea has fired 12 missiles — that’s two more than during the same period in 2016, CNN reported. Despite international pressure to back off missile testing, and threats of more sanctions if they don’t comply, North Korea has launched about a missile per week for the past three weeks, and Kim has promised that there are more to come.
Japan and South Korea both condemned the tests Monday.
"It is a severe threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula but also the international community," South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement to CNN.
The U.S. announced the Pentagon was testing a new anti-missile system in response to the threat from North Korea.