North Korea fires more cruise missiles in testing spree

North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles Friday, Seoul’s military said, continuing a fresh streak of weapons testing as Kim Jong Un’s regime ramps up what it calls “war preparations”.

So far this year, Kim has declared South Korea his country’s “principal enemy”, jettisoned agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach, and threatened war over “even 0.001 mm” of territorial infringement.

Pyongyang has also carried out ever more weapons tests, including multiple cruise missile launches, an “underwater nuclear weapon system” test, plus firing a solid-fuelled hypersonic ballistic missile.

On Friday, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military had “detected at around 11 am (0200 GMT) the firing of multiple unidentified cruise missiles” into the sea off the country’s west coast.

The South Korean military has “stepped up surveillance in close coordination with the United States”, the JCS said in the statement.

The military is “closely monitoring for signs of additional activity” by the North Korean army, it said, adding they were “closely analysing” the launch.

Unlike their ballistic counterparts, the testing of cruise missiles is not banned under current UN sanctions on Pyongyang.

Cruise missiles tend to be jet-propelled and fly at a lower altitude than more sophisticated ballistic missiles, making them harder to detect and intercept.

Analysts have warned that North Korea could be testing cruise missiles ahead of sending them to Russia for use in Ukraine, with Washington and Seoul claiming Kim has shipped weapons to Moscow, despite rafts of UN sanctions banning any such moves.

North Korea could be using recent launches as a way to show Russians the capability of their missiles before sending them off to Moscow,” Han Kwon-hee of Korea Association of Defence Industry Studies.

“The need to do it could be especially acute given recent reports of North Korean shells going awry when used by Russian troops,” he said.

Even as Kim ramps up the rhetorical threats against the South, the testing spree plus suspected Russian arms deals indicate “a dog that barks never bites,” he said.

“If he was really serious about a war, he wouldn’t have said it but kept it in the dark for a surprise attack. He also wouldn’t have sold arms to Russia if he were really into going to war with the South.”

Culled from AFP