Over the weekend, North Korea tested new cruise missiles that can hit up to 932 miles, putting some U.S. military bases within a potential line of fire.
In Japan, the missile can hit approximately 80 U.S. military installations except those at the northernmost tip of the nation. Whereas in South Korea, the missile could reach all 73 U.S. military bases.
Experts believe North Korea is using the missile launches to pressure the U.S. into relieving imposed economic sanctions. Talks between the two countries regarding North Korea abandoning its nuclear arms program have been stalled for two years, and the nation’s leader Kim Jong Un has shown no indication of restarting talks with President Joe Biden .
For talks to resume, Kim’s government has told the Biden administration that it must remove the U.S’ “hostile” policies toward North Korea. In turn, the U.S. asked North Korea to return to talks as the country has no hostile intent.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “What we seek to do is to reduce the threat to the United States, to our allies in the region, … and we think we can do that through diplomacy” with North Korea.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below .
North Korea said Thursday it successfully launched ballistic missiles from a train for the first time and was continuing to bolster its defenses, after the two Koreas test-fired missiles hours apart in dueling displays of military might.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the missiles were launched during a drill of a “railway-borne missile regiment” that transported the weapons system along rail tracks in the country’s mountainous central region and accurately struck a sea target 800 kilometers (500 miles) away.
State media showed what appeared to be two different missiles streaking up from rail-car launchers engulfed in orange flames along tracks surrounded by dense forest.
A rail-based ballistic system reflects North Korea’s efforts to diversify its launch options, which now includes various vehicles and ground launch pads and may eventually include submarines. Firing a missile from a train could add mobility, but some experts say North Korea’s simple rail networks running through its relatively small territory would be quickly destroyed by enemies during a crisis.
“Our military assesses that North Korea is continuously developing various mobile launch equipment,” said Col. Kim Jun-rak, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said the South Korean and U.S. militaries were continuing to examine the North’s launches.
The South Korean and Japanese militaries said earlier that North Korea’s two short-range ballistic missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone but outside its territorial waters. The last time a North Korean missile landed inside that zone was in October 2019.
Pak Jong Chon, a senior North Korean official who has been seen as influential in the country’s missile development, said Wednesday’s tests were successfully conducted in line with the “strategic and tactical design and intention” of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.
Kim Jong Un vowed at a party congress in January to bolster his nuclear deterrent in the face of U.S.-led sanctions and pressure and issued a long wish list of sophisticated weaponry, including longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, spy satellites and tactical nuclear arms.
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