N.Korea Fired Ballistic Missiles for Pope's Visit

North Korea on Saturday released a photo that shows the projectiles it fired into the East Sea last Thursday were not short-range rockets from a multiple launcher but ballistic missiles. The North fired them on the day Pope Francis arrived in Seoul, in keeping with a long tradition of trying not to be forgotten when something noteworthy happens in South Korea.

But the North later claimed the firings were unrelated to the pope's visit. "We don't know and in fact have no interest at all in why he is traveling to South Korea and what he is going to plot with the South Korean puppets," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency quoted a rocket scientist as saying.

A military source here said on Sunday the image was released on the KCNA's overseas service website. "It's a close-up, unlike the long shot released the previous day, so that we can clearly identify the projectiles."

A projectile believed to be a type of KN-02 missile is fired in this photo released by the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday. A projectile believed to be a type of KN-02 missile is fired in this photo released by the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.

The missile is believed to be of a type nicknamed KN-02 here.

KN-02 missiles are fatter than 300-mm rockets with a diameter of 650 mm and are the North's only road-mobile solid-fuel ballistic missiles. They can be launched more quickly than Scud or Rodong missiles and are believed to have a 100m accuracy radius. 

The maximum range has been extended to an estimated 220 km, which would make them capable of hitting a military complex in Gyeryongdae, South Chungcheong Province and major air bases here if launched from the demilitarized zone.

U.S. and South Korean authorities were apparently fooled by the trajectory of the missiles, which suggested a smaller device.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 18, 2014 12:32 KST