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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian staff and agencies

North Korea fires cruise missiles off east coast, says South Korea

A strategic cruise missile dubbed ‘Pulhwasal-3-31’, which is currently under development, launches during a test at an unspecified location in North Korea earlier in January
A strategic cruise missile dubbed ‘Pulhwasal-3-31’, which is currently under development, launches during a test at an unspecified location in North Korea earlier in January. South Korea says the North has fired multiple missies off an eastern military port. Photograph: KCNA/Reuters

North Korea has fired multiple cruise missiles off an eastern military port, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff have said.

The missiles were launched about 8am (2300 GMT Saturday) and were being analysed by South Korean and US intelligence authorities, South Korea said, without specifying how many missiles were fired.

“While strengthening surveillance and vigilance, our military is cooperating closely with the United States and monitoring additional signs and activities from North Korea,” the joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.

It is North Korea’s third weapons demonstration this year in the face of deepening tensions with the US, South Korea and Japan and follows a previous round of cruise missile tests on 24 January and test-firing of the country’s first solid-fuel intermediate range ballistic missile on 14 January

But officials in Washington and Seoul say they have spotted no signs Pyongyang intends to take imminent military action.

Kim Jong-un’s government is likely to continue or even increase provocative steps, officials and analysts say, after it made strides in ballistic missile development, bolstered cooperation with Russia and scrapped its decades-long goal of peacefully reuniting with South Korea.

The US, South Korea and Japan in response have been expanding their combined military exercises, which Kim portrays as invasion rehearsals, and sharpening their deterrence strategies built around nuclear-capable US assets.

Earlier on Sunday, North Korea’s state media KCNA denounced a series of military drills conducted in recent weeks by US and South Korean troops, warning of “merciless” consequences.

“The reality that nuclear war exercises against our republic have been going on like crazy since the beginning of the New Year demands that we be fully prepared for a deadly war,” the dispatch said.

North Korea carried out its first test of a cruise missile with possible nuclear strike capabilities in September 2021.

With Reuters and Associated Press

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