North Korea launched a salvo of suspected anti-ship cruise missiles Thursday, according to the South Korean military.
The weapons were fired from a location near Wonsan, Gangwan Province on the east coast, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told Yonhap News Agency.
The missiles reportedly flew around 124 miles. It is unclear how many missiles were fired, and the specifics of the weaponry have yet to be revealed.
North Korea has launched a dozen ballistic missiles this year, advancing the reclusive regime’s missile program at an accelerated pace. North Korea has tested three new systems this year.
Pyongyang has been testing missile systems from the military parade in April. The new Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile, and Scud variant tested in recent weeks all made appearances. A road-mobile anti-ship cruise missile system similar to the Russian Kh-35 also showed up during the parade.
As to Pyongyang’s intentions behind the provocation, Roh said it seems aimed at “showing off its capability with various types of missiles and demonstrating its anti-ship precision-strike ability in connection with joint maritime drills involving U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups.”
The first launch in May was a ballistic missile that flew even further, some 450 miles.
Efforts to dissuade Kim from advancing his missile program have not been successful. Rounds of sanctions imposed through the United Nations and directly by concerned countries – including the United States and Japan – have failed to change North Korea’s calculus.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged China, North Korea’s main benefactor, to crack down on trade with North Korea and fully implement international sanctions against the Kim regime, but it is not clear that Beijing is doing so, analysts say.
China’s top priority is stability on its borders and, angry as it is about North Korea’s continued provocations, it is considered unlikely to inflict serious pain on the Kim regime while it conducts only missile tests. Another nuclear test, however, could be a red line for Beijing, analysts say.
Against expectations, Kim has refrained from carrying out a sixth nuclear test.
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