South Korean officials say North Korea tested cruise missile

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth salvo…

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth weapons launch this month, South Korean military officials said, as they showed off their power. military strength amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

An unnamed official, citing ministry regulations, said South Korean and US intelligence officials were analyzing the launches, but did not provide further details. Another military official, who asked to remain anonymous for similar reasons, said the tests were conducted from an inland area, but did not specify the location.

North Korea ramped up its testing activity recently in an apparent attempt to pressure the Biden administration over stalled foreign policy after the pandemic added shock to a disrupted economy. by US-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and decades of government mismanagement.

North Korea on Thursday threatened to resume testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles aimed at the US homeland, which leader Kim Jong Un suspended in 2018 while under arrest. diplomacy with the US.

Some experts suggest that North Korea could significantly escalate arms protests after the Winter Olympics, which begin on February 4 in China, North Korea’s main ally and economic lifeline.

They say the Pyongyang leadership likely feels it can use a strong provocation to turn the tide with the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks but is not ready. willing to ease sanctions unless Mr Kim takes real steps to give up the nuclear weapons and missiles he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, said Tuesday’s launch was likely a test of what North Korea considers a long-range cruise missile and was tested for the first time. first in September.

State media reported at the time that the missile was fired from a launch truck and could hit targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away. It describes those missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance” – a word that implies they were developed to carry nuclear weapons.

While halting tests of nuclear equipment and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Kim Jong Un has since 2019 ramped up testing of a variety of shorter-range weapons that appear to be designed to overwhelm the system. missile defense in the region. Experts say North Korea’s expansion of its missile arsenal reflects its intention to put more pressure on rivals to accept the country as a nuclear power in the hope of winning a resolution from sanctions. economic sanctions and convert diplomacy with Washington into joint arms reduction talks.

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James Brien

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