North Korea leader Kim Jong Un oversaw latest missile launch: KCNA

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SEOUL (Reuters) - Kim Jong Un personally oversaw Monday’s “firepower strike drill,” North Korea state media reported on Tuesday, including the launch of what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles for the second time in a week.

North Korea launched multiple projectiles into the sea on Monday as part of firing drills, according to South Korea’s military, drawing U.S. and Chinese appeals for Pyongyang to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programs.

Kim was joined by the commanders of the Korean People’s Army and expressed “great satisfaction with the result,” North Korean state news agency KCNA reported.

“The purpose of the firepower strike drill was to inspect the sudden military counterattack capability of the long-range artillery units on the front,” KCNA said.

Photos released by KCNA showed troops firing a number of artillery guns, as well as missiles from a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) with four launching tubes.

The missiles flew up to 200 km (124 miles) and reached 50 km in altitude, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Britain, Germany, France, Estonia and Belgium raised North Korea’s recent launches at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, calling them provocative actions that violated U.N. resolutions.

But North Korea’s foreign ministry criticized the European stand as “U.S.-instigated reckless behavior” and Kim’s sister said the drills were not meant to threaten anyone.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Cynthia Osterman