North Korea yesterday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it displays its military might amid COVID-19 pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the US.
One 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 over similar reasons, said the tests were conducted from an inland area, but did not specify where.
North Korea has been increasing its testing activity recently in an apparent effort to pressure the administration of US President Joe Biden over the stalled diplomacy after the pandemic unleashed further shock on an economy broken by crippling US-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and decades of mismanagement by its own government.
North Korea on Thursday issued a veiled threat to resume the testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the US homeland, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suspended in 2018 while initiating diplomacy with the US.
Some experts say North Korea could dramatically escalate weapons demonstrations after the Winter Olympics, which begin on Friday next week in China, the North’s main ally and economic lifeline.
They say Pyongyang’s leadership likely feels it could use a dramatic provocation to move the needle with the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks, but showed no willingness to ease sanctions unless Kim takes real steps to abandon the nuclear weapons and missiles he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.
Yesterday’s launches could have been followup tests of a weapon North Korea has described as a long-range cruise missile and first tested in September last year, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies.
State media in reports at the time said the missiles were fired from launcher trucks and could strike targets 1,500km away. It described those missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance” — wording that implies they were developed to carry nuclear weapons.
While halting the tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Kim Jong-un since 2019 has been ramping up tests 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 apply more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power in hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions and convert the diplomacy with Washington into mutual arms-reduction negotiations.
‘EATING UP SPRING’: Temperatures are 10oC to 15oC above the seasonal average and a city northwest of Madrid experienced its first ‘tropical’ May night on Friday Parts of Spain are experiencing their hottest May since records began, as a mass of hot, dry air blows in from Africa, bringing with it dusty skies and temperatures of more than 40°C. Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, has warned of a weekend heat wave of an “extraordinary intensity,” with temperatures between 10°C and 15°C above the seasonal average and more akin to high summer than mid-May. “The early hours of 21 May have been extraordinarily hot for the time of year across a good part of the center and south of the peninsula,” Aemet said on Saturday. “In many places the
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were
‘I’M STUNNED’: The disease is not known to be sexually transmitted, but a large outbreak might reveal previously unknown transmission routes, a virologist said Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America. Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa. However, in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden, Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not previously traveled to Africa. There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the WHO said. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases on Friday. “I’m stunned by this. Every day I
INTERVENTION: A source said that a border patrol agent had rushed into the school without waiting for backup and killed the teen gunman, who was behind a barricade An 18-year-old man on Tuesday opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said. The attacker was killed by law enforcement. The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that one of the two was a teacher. The assault at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a US school since a man killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Outside the town civic center, where families were told to await news