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SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Monday it has newly developed controllable shells for a multiple rocket launcher and its ballistic control system as part of its push to expand its weapons arsenal.
The Academy of Defence Science conducted a test firing of 240 mm-caliber controllable multiple rocket launcher shells on Sunday in a bid to evaluate their accuracy and prove their advantages, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"The development of 240 mm-caliber controllable multiple rocket launcher shells and its ballistic control system will make a qualitative change in our army's multiple rocket launcher force," the KCNA said.
North Korea said the latest technical improvement will help reevaluate the strategic value and utility of the 240 mm-caliber rocket launcher and increase the role of such a weapon in battlefields.
The South Korean military detected the North's multiple rocket launcher firing toward the Yellow Sea from an area near the western port city of Nampho the previous day but did not release the information to the public, a source said.
The military releases information on ballistic missile or other major weapons tests only, the source said.
The latest test suggests a possible improvement in the North's 240 mm multiple rocket launcher system, which is known to be deployed near the border to target the South's broader capital area.
In August, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited munitions factories and called the realization of the control of 122 mm and 240 mm multiple rocket launcher shells a "great revolution."
The latest test marked the first time the North unveiled a test of the "controllable" 240 mm shells, which would likely lead to improvements in range and precision, amid a push to boost its weapons capabilities.
In January last year, Kim called a new super-large 600-mm rocket launcher an "offensive weapon" capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads that could put the entire South Korea within its range.
North Korea has dialed up tensions on the Korean Peninsula with weapons tests in the new year, including launches of cruise missiles from sea and land, as well as artillery firings into waters near the western inter-Korean sea border.
The latest weapons test also comes amid deepening military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, raising speculation of the new shells possibly being exported to Russia.
"The 240 mm multiple rocket launcher shell likely has a dual purpose," Hong Min, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said. "In practical terms, there is a possibility of it being considered for export to Russia, while politically ... it could be intended to pressure (the South)."
Washington and its allies have accused Pyongyang of supplying arms to Moscow to fuel its war against Ukraine.