Bolton says N.K. appears to be getting missile ‘fully operational’

WASHINGTON, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that North Korea appears to have conducted a series of missile tests in recent weeks to get a new weapon "fully operational."

Bolton made the remark on Fox News following North Korea's short-range projectile launches on Tuesday (Seoul time), the fourth round of tests since July 25.

South Korea has said the projectiles appear to be short-range ballistic missiles, which North Korea is banned from testing under U.N. Security Council resolutions. The North has disputed this assessment, saying it tested a new rocket launch system.

"It looks like it's a testing series that they want to get this missile fully operational," Bolton said in the interview, adding that the projectiles appear to be ballistic missiles.

"The president and Kim Jong-un have an understanding that Kim Jong-un is not going to launch longer-range, intercontinental range ballistic missiles, so I think the president's watching this very, very carefully," he said, apparently referring to the North Korean leader's pledge not to conduct nuclear or ICBM tests.

The missile being tested has been identified as a KN-23 the North's version of Russia's Iskander a short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missile, which the regime also test-fired in May.

The series of launches came as North Korea denounced joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. that began Monday.

Bolton dismissed the protests, noting that the drills are command post exercises that are largely computer driven.

"We think this is something that's consistent with the partnership we have with South Korea," he said. "North Korea has continued its exercises unabated, so they don't really have a lot to complain about."

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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