North Korea fires multiple 'rare' cruise missiles ahead of South Korean election

14 Avril, 2020, 13:39 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • North Korea fires multiple 'rare' cruise missiles ahead of South Korean election

Despite a possible coronavirus outbreak in North Korea, the country has fired missiles off its east coast from the ground as well as fighter jets on Tuesday, according to South Korea's military.

In recent weeks, North Korea has test-launched a variety of missiles and other weapons amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says in a statement that the projectiles - presumed to be cruise missiles - were fired from the North's eastern Kangwon province on Tuesday morning.

If confirmed, the test would be the first known North Korean cruise missile launch since 2017.

The North also flew multiple Sukhoi-variant and MiG fighter jets above the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, which fired multiple air-to-ground rockets, a spokesman added.

All the tested weapons were still short-range and didn't pose a direct threat to the US mainland. A test of a missile capable of reaching the USA homeland would end North Korea's self-imposed moratorium on major weapons tests and likely completely derail nuclear diplomacy with the United States.

It said South Korea's military was monitoring possible additional launches, but gave no further details, such as exactly how many projectile were launched or what type of projectiles they were.

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The North is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its banned weapons programmes.

Tuesday's missiles travelled around 150 kilometres (96 miles) according to Seoul, and Go Myong-hyun - an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies - said the short range was likely to have been deliberately chosen by Pyongyang.

"North Korea wants to create and maintain tensions, but still aims to prevent those tensions from growing too much and pressuring the US a lot", Go said.

On Sunday, North Korean state media reported leader Kim Jong Un had visited an airbase and observed drills by the country's fighter jets and attack aircraft. That summit collapsed after Trump rejected Kim's demands for broad sanctions relief in return for a limited denuclearization step.

The nuclear-armed North has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles in recent years, which climb high above the Earth, often into space, before being brought down towards their targets at high speed by the force of gravity.

"Ballistic missiles demonstrate destructive power while cruise missiles show accuracy", he told AFP.

They travel at low altitudes - sometimes just a few metres above the surface - which are powered throughout their flight and can often be hard to detect.

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