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North Korea has carried out a several different missile tests Tuesday, according to the South Korean military.
South Korean military officials assessed North Korea fired missiles from both the ground and from airborne fighter jets, Fox News reported. The launches likely come as a show of force on the eve of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung’s 108th birthday, as well as a distraction ahead of South Korea’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff assessed the first string of missile launches were fired off by North Korean troops in Munchonto and were presumed to be cruise missiles. The missiles reportedly splashed down 93 miles off the Korean coast.
Later missile tests were carried out by North Korean fighter jets. An unknown number of suspected air-to-surface missiles were launched into the same waters off the Korean coast.
The missile launches are the latest in a series of recent North Korean weapons tests. Throughout President Donald Trump’s attempts to negotiate North Korea denuclearization, the country discontinued major weapons tests, such as for weapons that could reach the United States. Other, shorter range, ballistic missile tests did continue and with increased frequency as problems with the negotiations emerged.
As talks faltered, North Korea imposed a year-end deadline for the U.S. to prepare an agreeable deal, after which the country’s leader Kim Jong Un signalled an end to negotiations and a return to prior hostilities. Since the nuclear talks fell apart, North Korea has carried out several different weapons tests throughout the month of March.
While the nuclear talks are in limbo, a North Korean test of a weapon capable of reaching the U.S. would end its self-imposed moratorium on such tests and close out any remaining possible of negotiation with the U.S. according to Fox News.
The weapons tests also come despite global pressures surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. South Korea was recently an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak after it spread from China. North Korea, by contrast, has claimed it has no cases of coronavirus within its borders.
One of North Korea’s senior health officials offered a rare interview with AFP, to assert North Korea’s claims of no coronavirus cases, though U.S. observers have cast doubts on the claims.