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Growing arsenal: North Korea launches tactical guided missiles

FILE PHOTO - A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Picture

North Korea launched tactical guided missiles on Monday, according to state news agency KCNA, the latest in a series of recent tests that have highlighted the country’s developing missile programmes despite delayed denuclearization talks.

The news: This is the North’s fourth missile test in 2022, following two previous launches employing hypersonic missiles capable of high speed and manoeuvre after lift-off, and another test on Friday using a pair of SRBMs fired from train cars.

  • North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from an airport in Pyongyang on Monday, the South Korean military said.
  • The missiles travelled around 380 kilometres (236 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 42 kilometres (26 miles).
  • The Academy of Defence Science conducted a test of tactical guided missiles from the country’s west coast, and they “precisely hit an island target” off the east coast.
  • The test-fire was intended to selectively examine tactical guided missiles that are being built and deployed, as well as to verify the weapon system’s accuracy. It proved the precision, security, and efficiency of the weapon system under production.
  • The unusually quick run of launches has sparked outrage in the United States and a campaign for more UN penalties, while Pyongyang has threatened to retaliate, increasing the spectre of a return to the 2017 “fire and fury” threats.

What they’re saying: After a call with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, US Special Representative for North Korea, Sung Kim urged Pyongyang to “stop its unlawful and destabilising activities” and begin dialogue, stating he was open to meeting “without preconditions”.

  • South Korea’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that it views all North Korean missile launches as a “direct and severe threat”, but that its military can detect and intercept them.
  • During a briefing, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the North’s tests “increasingly worrying”, urging all parties to return to discussions to reduce tensions and pursue “very verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
  • North Korea looks to have fired KN-24 SRBMs, according to Kim Dong-yup, a former South Korean Navy officer who now teaches at Seoul’s Kyungnam University. The missiles were last tested in March 2020 and travelled 410 kilometres (255 miles) to a maximum height of 50 kilometres (31 miles).
  • According to him, the KN-24 is designed to elude missile defences and carry out precision strikes, similar to the US MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

What happened: In 2017, North Korea tested the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) at the Sunan airport, with Kim Jong Un in attendance.

  • Since 2017, North Korea has not tested its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or nuclear weapons, as part of a flurry of negotiations with the United States that began in 2018.
  • However, after denuclearization talks stopped and relapsed into a standoff following a failed summit in 2019, it began testing a variety of new SRBM designs.
  • Kim did not show up for the most recent test.
  • A photo issued by KCNA showed a missile spewing flame as it rose into the sky above a cloud of dust.
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