North Korea has reportedly test-fired an "ultra-precision anti-ship rocket" successfully and will soon deploy it on its naval units, its state media said on Saturday, a move said to have significance given that the United States and South Korea began a joint naval exercise on Thursday.
North Korea's East Sea fleet carried out the drill under the supervision of Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
"The ultra-precision anti-ship rocket blasted off from a rocket boat. The intelligent rocket precisely sought, tracked and hit the 'enemy' ship after taking a safe flight," KCNA said, suggesting that the regime was carrying on with the development of its missile technology despite facing heavy sanctions from the global community.
The KCNA Watch, a site that tracks North Korean media, carried photos of a smiling Kim Jong-un as he watched the drill as well as pictures of the rocket as it was being launched from a warship, in an article titled 'Kim Jong Un Watches Newly-Developed Anti-Ship Rocket Test-firing'.
The Kim Jong-un regime said that the new rocket will "bring a great change in the navy's defense of territorial waters and strongly react to any attempt of the enemy's fleets of warships for military attack". The ruler also called for more tactical guided weapons of high precision and intelligence based on the success of the anti-ship rocket.
The rocket test-fire comes in the midst of South Korea's joint naval exercise with the US, which kicked off on Thursday with the USS Olympia (SSN-717), a Los Angeles-class submarine.
The routine joint drills always raise tensions between the North and South, which have remained technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War, as it concluded with a ceasefire and not a peace treaty.