North Korean leader inspects factory producing launchers for solid-fuel ICBMs

SEOUL, Jan 5: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a factory producing mobile launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), stressing the need to strengthen the country’s nuclear deterrence for a “military showdown” with its enemy, Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.

According to North Korea’s state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), unspecifying the date of the visit, Kim ordered measures to expand the capacity to produce major Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), stressing that the factory plays an important role in bolstering the country’s defence capabilities. 

“Given the prevailing grave situation that requires the country to be more firmly prepared for a military showdown with the enemy, he indicated the tasks to be fulfilled by the factory,” said the KCNA in an English-language dispatch.

It said the leader has set forth immediate and long-term plans for the production and the task of expanding the factory’s production capacity, underscoring the need to produce various TELs for tactical and strategic weapons. 

Kim’s entourage was attended by the Munitions Industry Department director Jo Chun Ryong, and his sister, Kim Yo Jong, and daughter, Ju Ae. 

Last year, North Korea launched five ICBMs, marking the highest number in a single year. In April 2023, it test-fired a Hwasong-18 ICBM for the first time and launched two more in July and December.

At a year-end key party meeting, Kim called for a stepped-up in war readiness to deter “unprecedented” acts of the United States-led confrontations and laid out plans to launch three more military spy satellites and bolster the nation’s nuclear arsenal in 2024.