South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military was analyzing North Korean launches based on US and South Korean intelligence.
Kim at a ruling Workers’ Party convention in January doubled down on his pledge to strengthen nuclear deterrence in the face of US sanctions and pressure and issued a long wishlist of sophisticated new assets, including intercontinental ballistic missiles to more long range, nuclear weapons – motorized submarines, spy satellites and tactical nuclear weapons. Kim also said at the time that his national defense scientists were developing “intermediate-range cruise missiles with the most powerful warheads in the world.”
North Korea’s weapons tests are intended to build a nuclear and missile program that can withstand what it claims to be hostility from the United States and South Korea, but they are also being considered by outside analysts as a way to make its political demands clear to leaders in Washington and Seoul. .
The North’s resumption of testing activity is likely an attempt to pressure the Biden administration over the diplomatic freeze after Kim failed to leverage his arsenal for economic gain during Donald Trump’s presidency .
North Korea ended a year-long hiatus in ballistic testing in March by firing two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, continuing the tradition of testing new U.S. administrations with weapons demonstrations aimed at measuring Washington’s response and wresting concessions.
But there had been no known test launches for months after that, as Kim focused her national efforts on tackling the coronavirus and saving her economy.
KCNA said the missiles tested over the weekend traveled 126 minutes “along oval and Type 8 flight orbits” over North Korean lands and waters before hitting their targets.
“Test launches have shown that technical indices such as the thrust power of the newly developed turbine engine, the missile navigation control and the impact accuracy guided by the combined guided mode met the requirements of the designs. . Overall, the efficiency and practicality of the operation of the weapon system has been confirmed to be excellent, ”he said.
It appeared that Kim was not present to observe the tests. KCNA said Kim’s top military official Pak Jong Chon observed the test fires and called on the country’s defense scientists to “do everything possible to increase” the northern military capabilities.
Kim’s powerful sister hinted last month that North Korea was ready to resume weapons testing while issuing a statement berating the United States and South Korea for continuing their joint military exercises, which , she said, was “the most vivid expression of the hostile policies of the United States.”
She then said the North would bolster its preemptive strike capabilities as another senior official threatened unspecified countermeasures that would leave the allies facing a “security crisis.”
Allies say the exercises are defensive in nature, but they have canceled or reduced them in recent years to create space for diplomacy or in response to COVID-19.
Talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled since a failed summit between Trump and Kim in 2019, when the Americans rejected the North’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for ‘a partial cession of its nuclear capacities. Kim’s government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overtures to dialogue, demanding that Washington first abandon its “hostile” policies.
The latest tests came after Kim staged an unusual parade in the capital Pyongyang last week, which strayed significantly from previous militarist demonstrations, featuring anti-virus workers in hazmat suits and organizations defense forces involved in industrial works and rebuilding communities destroyed by floods instead of missiles and other provocative weapons.
Experts said the parade was focused on national unity as Kim now faces her toughest test with North Korea grappling with US-led economic sanctions against its nuclear weapons, shutdowns pandemic borders that worsen its shattered economy; and food shortages have been compounded by flooding in recent summers.