North Korean President Kim Jong-un oversees test of new surface-to-sea missile

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has supervised the test firing of a new surface-to-sea missile and ordered to tighten the defence posture near the western maritime border, Yonhap News Agency reported.

According to the report, North Korea test-launched the new missile, Padasuri-6 on Wednesday a day after the South Korean Military said North Korea fired several cruise missiles off the eastern port of Wonsan.

The missile hit a target after launch over waters in the East Sea for around 1400 seconds, or 23 minutes and 20 seconds.

It did not disclose further details, such as how many missiles were fired, Yonhap News Agency reported quoting Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

It marked North Korea’s fifth cruise missile launch this year.

The provocation came two days before the 82nd birthday of late former leader Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader Kim Jong-un.

The North’s leader ordered a stronger defence posture in waters north of the South Korean border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong, saying South Korean warships have frequently violated the North’s waters, the KCNA said.

Kim accused the South of sending warships and patrol ships to defend the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the maritime border that the North does not recognize.

Kim called the NLL a “ghost” line that has not been recognized by international laws.

He stressed the need for North Korea to “thoroughly defend the maritime sovereignty by force of arms and actions, not by any rhetoric, statement and public notice,” the KCNA said.

“What is clear is that when the enemy intrudes into the maritime border recognized by us, we will regard it as an encroachment upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and an armed provocation against it,” Kim said.

Yonhap News Agency reported that the North’s leader also ordered the reorganization of the combat formations of the coastal missile battalions in the east and the west sea fleets.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

North Korea does not recognize the NLL, the de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea, and has long demanded that the line be moved farther south as it was unilaterally drawn by the US-led UN Command after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Waters near the NLL have been a flashpoint between the two Koreas, where three bloody naval skirmishes took place in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

In March 2010, Pyongyang torpedoed a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors, Yonhap News Agency reported

At a parliamentary meeting in January, the North’s leader warned that if South Korea violates even 0.001 millimeter of our territorial land, air or waters, it will be considered a provocation of war.

Last month, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery rounds into waters near the tensely guarded western border, prompting the South Korean military to conduct live-fire drills in response.

Experts said North Korea’s new ground-to-ship missile appears to be the North’s variant of Russia’s Kh-35 Uran cruise missiles.

“The missile seems to be designed to counter the naval capabilities of South Korea and the United States, such as U.S. aircraft carriers,” said Hong Min, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

North Korea has been dialing up tensions on the Korean Peninsula with weapons tests and bellicose rhetoric this year, including the launches of cruise missiles from sea and land, as well as a solid-fuel hypersonic missile.

On January 24, North Korea test-fired what it called a new strategic cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, named Pulhwasal-3-31, for the first time.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s Kim visited a key munitions factory, the KCNA said in a separate dispatch, without revealing the time and location.

A photo carried by the Rodong Sinmun, the North’s main newspaper, showed Kim touring a factory presumed to be producing artillery shells.

Kim ordered the Second Economic Committee, an organization in charge of the North’s munitions industry, to start a new unspecified project, the report said.