Kim Jong Un Tells North Korea Arms Factories to Boost Capacity -KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at a major weapon factory in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on August 6, 2023.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has instructed factories making missile engines, artillery and other weapons to boost capacity as an important part of bolstering the country’s defense capabilities, state media said on Sunday.

Kim’s inspections from Thursday to Saturday included the production of engines for strategic cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as shells for super large-caliber multiple-rocket launchers and transporter-erector-launchers, said state news agency KCNA.

His unusual visits to multiple arms production facilities over several days come as Pyongyang pushes to develop various strategic and conventional weapons and holds prominent displays of a range of arms.

The launchers Kim inspected are normally used to fire ballistic missiles.

North Korea has tested rocket launchers for larger caliber shells, advanced cruise missiles and last month its newest ballistic missiles, including a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim cited improved precision processing and modernized automation in the production of large-caliber multiple-rocket launcher shells, KCNA said.

He called for the mass production of “various kinds of cutting-edge strategic weapon engines… and thus make a great contribution to bringing about a revolution in developing new strategic weapons of our style,” the agency said.

Photos showed Kim firing different types of assault rifles, with fiery blasts coming off the muzzle as he took aim at a target that was out of frame.

Cheong Seong-chang, an expert on North Korea’s political strategy at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said Kim is likely focussed on modernisation and technical innovation of weapons that will help with the export of arms to Russia.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on July 27, Pyongyang held a major military parade displaying its newest nuclear-capable missiles and attack and spy drones, with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and a senior Chinese official joining Kim in the reviewing stand.

At a large defense exhibition, Kim gave Shoigu a tour of the display of ballistic missiles and what appeared to be a new drone.

The United States has accused North Korea of providing arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, including a “significant” number of artillery shells, as well as a shipment of infantry rockets and missiles to Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group.

Russia and North Korea have denied those claims.