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North Korea says it has tested new long-range cruise missiles

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Korea said Monday it had successfully tested new long-range missiles developed over the weekend, the first known test activity per month, highlighting how the country continues to expand its capabilities. his military in a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States.


What you need to know

  • North Korea says it has successfully tested long-range cruise missiles developed over the weekend
  • Tests highlight how the country continues to expand its military capabilities in a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States
  • The Korean Central News Agency reported the tests on Monday
  • The North hailed its new missiles as a strategic weapon of great importance. “

The Korean Central News Agency reported that the missiles showed they could hit targets 930 kilometers away on Saturday and Sunday. State media published photos of a projectile being fired from a launch truck and what looked like a rocket traveling in the air.

The North hailed its new missiles as a strategic weapon with a wording of great significance implying that they were developed with the aim of arming them with nuclear warheads.

North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons in order to thwart what it claims is hostility from the US and South Korea and has long tried to use the threat of such an arsenal to extract much-needed economic aid or to exert pressure otherwise. North and allied China confronted South Korea and U.S.-led UN forces in the 1950-53 Korean War, a conflict that ended in a ceasefire that has not yet been replaced by a peace treaty.

The international community is determined to get the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal and has long used a combination of the threat of sanctions and the promise of economic aid to try to influence the North. But US-led nuclear talks have stalled since the fall of a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump in 2019. At the time, the Americans rejected Kim’s request for easing sanctions. large in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear complex.

North Korea ended a year-long pause in ballistic tests in March by launching two short-range missiles at sea, continuing a tradition of testing new U.S. administrations to gauge Washington’s response. The Kims government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s proposals for dialogue, demanding that Washington give up its hostile policies, initially a reference to maintaining US sanctions and a military alliance with South Korea.

The United States holds about 28,000 troops in South Korea to help prevent possible aggression by North Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.

There had been no known trials for months since March, as Kim focused his efforts on protecting himself from the coronavirus and rescuing an economy damaged by sanctions, bad floods in recent summers and closing the borders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have warned that the economic situation is dire, although monitoring groups have not yet found signs of mass starvation or major instability.

The test report comes before US President Joe Bidens, North Korea’s special envoy Sung Kim, met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss stalled nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

The South Korean military is analyzing North Korea’s releases based on US and southern intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said after a meeting with Australia’s foreign and defense ministers that the resumption of testing activity illustrates an urgent need to revive diplomacy with the North.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said it was monitoring the situation with allies and that North Korea’s activity reflects a continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats it poses to its neighbors and the international community. Japan said it was extremely concerned.

While the cruise missiles were clearly intended to send a message to Washington, tests may show that the North is struggling with more provocative weapons systems and may not receive much response, said Du Hyeogn Cha, an analyst at the Seoul Asan Policy Institute. Studies.

China, the North’s strongest ally, did not comment on the missiles when asked. A spokesman for its Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, only called on all stakeholders to exercise restraint, move in the same direction, be actively involved in dialogue and contacts to reach a political solution.

Kim doubled his promise to strengthen his nuclear deterrent in the face of US sanctions and pressure at a ruling Labor Party congress in January. He issued a long wish list with new sophisticated equipment, including longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, spy satellites and tactical nuclear weapons.

The KCNA said the missiles tested over the weekend traveled for 126 minutes over North Korean territory before hitting their targets.

“Overall, the efficiency and practicality of the weapons system operation was confirmed to be excellent,” he said.

It appears that Kim was not present to observe the tests. The KCNA said Kim’s top military official, Pak Jong Chon, observed the evidence and called on the country’s defense scientists to do everything possible to enhance the North’s military capabilities.

Japanese Cabinet Secretary-General Katsunobu Kato said North Korean missiles with such a range of action would pose a serious threat to the peace and security of Japan and the surrounding areas.

He said Tokyo was working with Washington and Seoul to gather information on recent North Korean tests, but said there was no immediate indication that the weapons arrived within the exclusive Japanese economic zone.

The powerful sister Kims last month hinted that North Korea was ready to resume weapons testing as it issued a statement reprimanding the United States and South Korea for continuing their joint military exercises, which she said that it was the most vivid expression of American hostile policy.

The Allies say their exercises are defensive in nature, but they have canceled or reduced them in recent years to make room for diplomacy or in response to COVID-19.

The latest tests came after Kim staged an unusual parade last week that was a notable departure from previous militaristic displays, featuring antivirus workers in hazmat suits and civil defense organizations involved in industrial work and rebuilding devastated communities from floods.

Experts said the parade was focused on internal unity as Kim faces perhaps his toughest test, with his economy collapsing.

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