South Korean officials say North Korea tested cruise missiles

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FILE – In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 19, 2022. North Korea North on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2022. On Feb. 25, 2022, two suspected cruise missiles were tested in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it attempted to show off its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States. . Independent journalists were not allowed to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as supplied and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)朝鮮通信社/AP

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea tested two suspected cruise missiles on Tuesday in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it posts its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules, said South Korean and US intelligence officials were analyzing the launches, but did not provide further details. Another military official, who requested anonymity for similar reasons, said the tests were carried out from an inland area, but did not specify where.

North Korea recently ramped up testing activities in an apparent effort to pressure the Biden administration over stalled diplomacy after the pandemic unleashed a fresh shock to an economy shattered by crippling sanctions imposed by the United States over its nuclear weapons program and decades of mismanagement on its own. government.

North Korea issued a veiled threat last Thursday to resume nuclear explosive and long-range missile tests targeting the American homeland, which leader Kim Jong Un suspended in 2018 while beginning diplomacy with the United States. .

Some experts say North Korea could dramatically step up weapons displays after the Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 4 in China, the North’s main ally and economic lifeline.


They say Pyongyang’s leadership likely thinks it could use dramatic provocation to move the needle with the Biden administration, which has offered open talks but shown no willingness to ease sanctions unless Kim take real steps to abandon nuclear weapons and missiles which it considers its best guarantee of survival.

Tuesday’s launches could have been follow-up tests of a weapon North Korea has described as a long-range cruise missile and first tested in September, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Seoul University of North Korean Studies.

State media said at the time that the missiles were fired from launcher trucks and could hit targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away. He described these missiles as a “strategic weapon of great importance” – a formulation which implies that they were developed to carry nuclear weapons.

While halting testing of intercontinental-range nuclear devices and ballistic missiles, Kim Jong Un since 2019 has intensified testing of various shorter-range weapons apparently designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region. Experts say the North’s expanding missile arsenal reflects an aim to exert more pressure on rivals to accept it as a nuclear power in hopes of securing economic sanctions relief and converting diplomacy with Washington in mutual arms reduction negotiations.

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