North Korea launches missile test as tensions escalate with US

SEOUL – North Korea test-fired two short-range cruise missiles over the weekend, South Korean defense officials confirmed Wednesday, adding a series of provocations and statements in recent weeks that experts say are warning to Washington .

The test took place on the west coast of North Korea on Sunday, when the country accused the United States and South Korea of ​​”stinking” the Korean peninsula with their annual military exercises. It did not violate UN resolutions, which prohibit North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile technologies. However, it marked the country’s first missile test since President Biden took office in January.

When North Korea began missile testing, they are usually observed through state media and quickly confirmed by the South Korean military. But North Korean media has not reported Sunday’s test. South Korean officials said on Wednesday that they had traced the test when it happened, but decided not to report on it immediately. He did not elaborate on his decision.

South Korean defense officials consider short-range cruise missile tests to be less of a provocation than ballistic launches. What they don’t do is to consider a minor provocation from the North when they try to promote inter-Korean dialogue. Shil, when North Korea launched short-range cruise missiles off its east coast in April last year, was quickly confirmed by South Korea. In this case, South Korean authorities confirmed only after the trial It was first reported By The Washington Post.

The missiles were launched at 6:36 am on Sunday near Nampo, a port in the southwest direction of the North Korean capital Pyongyang, South Korean jurist Ha Tae-kyung was told by intelligence officials on Wednesday. Intelligence officials said South Korean military officials along with their American counterparts agreed not to publicize the trial, according to Mr. Ha.

South Korea and the US completed their annual 10-day military exercise last week. North Korea has generally responded to exercises that carry out its own exercises, which sometimes include missile tests.

Field officials and analysts are watching North Korea closely to see if the country will step up tensions to benefit before a possible dialogue with the Biden administration.

North Korea has its leader Kim Jong-un and former President Donald J. Trump has denied any serious talks with Washington since the abrupt second summit in 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump failed to come to an agreement on how fast North Korea would end its nuclear program or when Washington would relieve sanctions.

Pyongyang has made a number of hostile statements towards the United States in recent times, and analysts said missile testing could be part of a micro-pressure strategy, raising the possibility that North Korea would leave concessions to tensions on the peninsula Will return to a new cycle. Of Washington.

“Pyongyang, through these new missile tests, is signaling to Team Biden that its military capabilities will continue to grow more powerful with each passing day,” Harry J. Kazianis, Korean-based Washington-based Center for the National Interest Senior director of studies, said in an email comment.

The Biden administration has stepped up efforts to work closely with its regional allies, South Korea and Japan, to better handle a growing China, along with North Korea’s growing weapons capabilities. Antony J., Secretary of Administration. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visited Seoul and Tokyo last week as part of Asia’s first high-level diplomatic visit to the administration.

President Biden plans to complete a review of North Korea’s policy in the coming weeks in close coordination with South Korea and Japan, Mr. Blinken said in Seoul. He said the review included both “pressure options and the potential for future diplomacy”. During his visit, Mr. Blinken also criticized North Korea’s record of human rights, and called Mr. Kim’s “oppressive government” and its “widespread and systematic abuses”.

Washington made a breakthrough last week when it was the first time a North Korean citizen was extradited to the United States. A Malaysian court agreed To convict The North Korean businessman, who is set to face trial in a US court on charges of money laundering and violating international sanctions. North Korea accused Washington of being a “backstage manipulator” in the case, and warned that it would “pay a fair price.”

It also said that it did not feel the need to respond to recent efforts by the Biden administration, dismissing them as “delay-time moves”.

As Washington has strengthened its alliances with Tokyo and Seoul, Chinese leaders Kim and Xi Jinping have vowed to bring their two communist countries together.

In a message in the North Korean media this week, Mr. Xi said, Mr. Kim stressed the need to strengthen unity between the two countries to “face hostile forces”. In Mr. Kim’s own message, Mr. Xi vowed to help maintain “peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s latest missile test shows Mr Kim “will tolerate continued economic dependence on China to come out of aggressive epidemic against Washington and Seoul,” a professor of international studies at Elleha Womans University, Leifa-Eric Isle he said. Seoul

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