SEOUL, July 20 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly inspected nuclear explosion controls mounted on ballistic missiles launched early Tuesday.
Pyongyang’s state-controlled television network KCTV said Kim “once again inspected the nuclear explosion controls mounted on ballistic rockets, headed for target areas.”
The inspection of a nuclear detonator during tests is believed to be the last stage of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported.
North Korea is believed to retain 1,000 ballistic missiles in its arsenal and they cover a wide variety of distances, as evidenced by the recent launch of three missiles early Tuesday.
The missiles place all of South Korea within striking distance, according to Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff.
In Seoul, two of the projectiles were identified as short-range Scud-C missiles, also known as the Hwasong-6, and the third missile was identified as the mid-range Hwasong-7, also known as the Rodong missile.
Lee Chun-geun, a South Korean researcher at Science and Technology Policy Institute, said there is a “high possibility” North Korea was testing the nuclear detonator for proper functioning.
The three ballistic missiles North Korea fired early Tuesday were target practice for potential strikes against South Korean ports and airfields, according to Pyongyang, and the provocation is believed to be a reaction to a July 8 decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea.