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North Korea leader observes new weapons test aimed at enhancing country's nuclear capabilities

File photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows test-firing of a tactical guided missile conducted under a plan of the Academy of Defense Science, at an undisclosed location. (Photo by AFP)

North Korea has tested a new weapons system, under supervision of the country's leader Kim Jong Un, which is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of Pyongyang's tactical nuclear weapons.

The "new-type tactical guided weapon... is of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday.

This came after the country’s ruler gave a military research team "important instructions on further building up the defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces," the report added.

It said the test was successful, but did not specify when or where it took place.

The launch was the latest in an unprecedented intensification of sanctions-busting weapons-tests this year, which included firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.

It also came just ahead of US-South Korea military training exercises that were due to begin on Monday.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected two projectiles, which flew 110 kilometers (68 miles) at an altitude of 25 kilometers, travelling at speeds of around Mach 4.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the United States was "aware of the North Korean statement that they conducted a test of a long range artillery system."

On Saturday, the US 2nd Infantry Division, based in South Korea, shared photos of troops test-firing a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), though, it was unclear when the drills took place.

The live-fire exercises were to "ensure we maintain our readiness here in support of the ROK-US Alliance," the division said on Twitter, using the initials of South Korea's official name.

Three weeks earlier, North Korea staged its largest intercontinental ballistic missile test ever.

US President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside Kim.

However, Washington blew, what Pyongyang called a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on the North’s denuclearization. The emphasis prompted Pyongyang to discredit all the steps that had been taken by Trump as ingenuine and go back to its fiery discourse towards Washington.

Since Biden’s inauguration, Pyongyang has denounced the new president for pursuing a "hostile policy" and saying it was a "big blunder" for him to say he would deal with the “threat” posed by the North's nuclear program "through diplomacy as well as stern deterrence."

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