May 22, 2022

North Korea fired yet another unidentified ‘projectile’, Seoul says

North Korea fired, Thursday, January 27, a “unidentified projectile” in the sea, Seoul said. It would be Pyongyang’s sixth weapons test this year.

“North Korea fired an unidentified projectile into the East Sea”, also known as the Sea of ​​Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The last time North Korea tested so many weapons in a month was in 2019, after negotiations between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and the then US president broke down. , Donald Trump. Since then, talks between the two countries have been at an impasse and the North Korean economy is struggling under the severe international sanctions and the border closures that Pyongyang has imposed to protect itself from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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On Tuesday, Pyongyang had already carried out two cruise missile tests, according to Seoul, which does not fall under current United Nations (UN) sanctions. North Korea also said it tested hypersonic missiles on January 5 and 11 and ballistic missiles on January 14 and 17.

This series of tests prompted condemnation from the international community and a closed meeting of the UN Security Council. In response, the United States also imposed new sanctions, angering North Korea, which hinted last week that it could resume nuclear and long-range weapons testing.

“Impressive diversity”

Pyongyang has not tested intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017 and has continued to observe a self-imposed moratorium even after dialogue with the United States ceased.

These trials come at a delicate time for the region: China, the only major ally of the North Korean regime, is hosting the Winter Olympics in February and South Korea is organizing its presidential election in March.

Kim Jong-un’s regime “develops an impressive diversity of offensive weapons despite limited resources and serious economic challenges”said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “Some North Korean tests aim to develop new capabilities, in particular to evade anti-missile defenses, he added. Further launches aim to demonstrate the readiness and versatility of the missile forces that North Korea has already deployed.”.

After a decade in power, Kim Jong-un has little cause for celebration. International sanctions have brought North Korea’s economy to its knees, border closures have led to food shortages and talks with the United States have stalled.

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These factors could explain why North Korea has carried out five weapons tests in the past three weeks, a spectacular display of the nuclear-armed nation’s military prowess ahead of important national anniversaries, several experts have said. to Agence France-Presse earlier this week.

The country is preparing to celebrate the 80e anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong-un’s father, the late leader Kim Jong-il, in February, then the 110e anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder and first leader, in April.

The World with AFP