North Korea fires barrage of missiles from ground and air, South Korea military says
SEOUL, South Korea – A barrage of North Korean missiles fired from the ground and fighter jets splashed down on the waters off the country's east coast Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, a major show of force on the eve of a state anniversary in the North and parliamentary elections in the rival South.
The back-to-back launches were the most high-profile among a series of weapons tests that North Korea has conducted amid stalled nuclear talks and outside worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country.
North Korean troops based in the eastern coastal city of Munchon first launched several projectiles – presumed to be cruise missiles – Tuesday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
In recent weeks, North Korea has test-launched a variety of missiles and other weapons amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States.
Tuesday’s launches came a day before North Korea marks the 108th birthday of North Korea’s late founder, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of leader Kim Jong Un. South Korea holds parliamentary elections on the same day.
It's unusual for North Korea to launch cruise missiles. Most of the weapons it's tested were ballistic missiles or long-range artillery shells.
All the recently tested missiles were short-range and didn’t pose a direct threat to the U.S. mainland. A test of a missile capable of reaching the U.S. homeland would end North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on major weapons tests and probably completely derail nuclear diplomacy with the United States.
North Korea has repeatedly said there has been no coronavirus outbreak on its soil. An outbreak could become a humanitarian disaster because of the North’s lack of medical supplies and its fragile health care infrastructure.