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North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile towards the sea

North Korea launched at least one suspected ballistic missile into the sea on Thursday, its neighbors’ militaries said, apparently widening its spate of weapons tests that could culminate in flight of its largest-ever ICBM.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say whether the weapon involved in the launch was ballistic or how far it flew. The Japanese PM’s defense ministry said the launch may be linked to a ballistic missile. The Japan Coast Guard, which warned vessels in nearby waters about the possibility of falling objects, said it believes the missile flew in waters outside the country’s exclusive economic zone about an hour before it landed.

It was North Korea’s 12th round of weapons launches this year and came after it fired suspected artillery pieces into the sea on Sunday. Experts say the North’s unusually fast pace of testing activities underscores its dual goal of developing its weapons and pressuring Washington to deepen nuclear talks.

The North has also tested a host of new missiles, including a purported hypersonic weapon and the first launch of an intermediate-range missile since 2017 that can potentially reach Guam, a key US military center in the Pacific.

It also conducted two medium-range tests near its capital in recent weeks, which the US and South Korean militaries later assessed as components of the North’s largest ICBM, the Hwasong-17, which they say will soon be tested at full range could become.

A man walks past a TV report showing footage of a North Korean missile test at a train station in Seoul March 24, 2022.
A man walks past a TV report showing file footage of a North Korean missile test at a train station in Seoul March 24, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

North Korea’s official media insisted that these two tests were aimed at developing cameras and other systems for a spy satellite. Analysts say the North is clearly looking to simultaneously resume ICBM testing and acquire some level of space-based reconnaissance capability under the guise of a space launch to lessen international backlash to those moves.

The launch could potentially come on a major political anniversary in April, the birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un.

The launch could potentially come on a major political anniversary in April, Kim Il Sung's birthday.
The launch could potentially come on a major political anniversary in April, Kim Il Sung’s birthday.
AP

The North’s earlier ICBMs showed potential range to reach the American homeland in three flight tests in 2017. The development of the larger Hwasong-17, first unveiled at a military parade in October 2020, may point to the goal of arming it with multiple warheads to overwhelm missile defenses, experts say.

North Korea’s series of weapons tests this year, coming amid an ongoing diplomatic standoff, reflect a determination to solidify its status as a nuclear power and much-needed economic concessions from Washington and other rivals from a position of strength, analysts say.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/24/north-korea-fires-suspected-ballistic-missile-toward-sea/ North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile towards the sea

JACLYN DIAZ

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