Sunday, November 27, 2022

North Korea confirms missile tests as Kim visits munitions site

North Korea said Friday its two latest rounds of weapons tests this week were successful while vowing to bolster its nuclear “war deterrent” and speed up the development of more powerful warheads.
It appeared North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the tests on Tuesday and Thursday, which were detected by the militaries of neighbors South Korea and Japan. But Kim did inspect a munitions factory where workers pledged loyalty to their leader, who “smashes with his bold pluck the challenges of U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces,” state media said.
North Korea has been ramping up its testing activity in recent months, including six rounds of weapons launches so far in 2022, demonstrating its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear diplomacy with the United States.
While aggressively expanding his military capabilities despite limited resources, Kim is also reviving Pyongyang’s old playbook of brinkmanship to wrest concessions from Washington, which leads international sanctions over the North’s nuclear program.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency described the two ballistic missiles launched from a coastal area on Thursday as “surface-to-surface tactical guided missile” armed with a conventional warhead and said they accurately struck a sea target.
Photos released by state media suggest the weapons test-fired were a short-range solid-fuel missile it apparently designed after Russia’s Iskander ballistic system.
The missile, which North Korea has tested since 2019, could be launched from launcher trucks and trains and is designed for maneuverability and low-altitude flight. It’s seen as a key piece in the country’s expanding arsenal of shorter-range weapons apparently aimed at overwhelming missile defenses in the region.
KCNA said Tuesday’s launches were of a purported long-range cruise missile the North first tested in September. The two missiles flew for more than 2 hours and 35 minutes and demonstrated an ability to strike targets 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) away, a performance that underscored their value in “boosting the war deterrence of the country,” the agency said.
The North has described this weapon as “strategic,” implying that it’s being developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

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