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- General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and 3rd Supreme leader of North Korea
Kim Jong-un looked on as North Korea tested the firing of a new “super-large multiple rocket launcher”, it has been reported.
The country’s Central News Agency (KCNA) said the test on Saturday was a success, adding that the North Korean leader said the rocket launcher is “indeed a great weapon”.
It reported Mr Kim spoke of the need to "continue to step up the development of Korean-style strategic and tactical weapons for resolutely frustrating the ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces”.
Those “hostile forces” are most likely the US and South Korea, whose recently completed regular military drills infuriated North Korea.
The North has called the drills an invasion rehearsal and conducted a slew of missile and rocket tests in response.
Some experts said North Korea aims to show off its weapons to try to get an upper hand before a possible restart of nuclear negotiations.
These have been largely at a stalemate since the second summit between US president Donald Trump and Mr Kim in Vietnam in February fell apart due to squabbling over US-led sanctions on North Korea.
The two leaders met again at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.
Mr Trump played down the latest launch, saying "Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me.
“He likes testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We'll see what happens."
South Korea's military said the North fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday morning and that they flew about 236 miles at the maximum altitude of 60 miles.
It was the seventh known weapons test by North Korea in about a month.
The latest North Korean launches came two days after South Korea said it would terminate its intelligence-sharing deal with Japan amid trade disputes between the US allies.
Washington expressed its disappointment at the South Korean decision.
In a development that could possibly further complicate ties between Seoul and Tokyo, South Korea's navy began two-day exercises on Sunday around a group of islets controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan.
Japan's foreign ministry issued a statement saying the islets belong to Japan and called the drills "unacceptable".