March 23, 2021 – 23:54
North Korea launched at least two short-range missiles a few days ago, according to numerous reports, in what would be Pyongyang’s first test in about a year.
The Washington Post first reported on the test late Tuesday, saying “a number of short-range missiles” were launched “last weekend” but gave no further details.
Several other media outlets confirmed the report, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
It is not clear which missiles were tested, when they were tested, or how far they flew. U.S. and South Korean officials did not immediately respond to VOA’s request for comment.
U.S. and South Korean officials usually provide details shortly after North Korean evidence. Pyongyang also usually warns of activities in its state media.
None of this happened this time, prompting some experts to question whether the missiles tested were small or managed to evade detection by US and allied radars.
The missile launch, if confirmed, comes days after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Seoul and Tokyo.
President Biden’s administration, which is conducting a policy review of North Korea, has sought to resume talks with North Korea. But North Korea says it will not respond to calls for dialogue.
Last week, North Korea sharply criticized joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, warning against what it sees as provocative actions that cause a “bad smell.”
White House officials have not commented on North Korea’s latest test, which would be the first Pyongyang missile test since July 2020.
The test, which involved an anti-ship cruise missile and flew less than 100 kilometers, was also not reported for several weeks.
Some missile experts believe North Korea’s latest test may have included cruise missiles, which fly lower than ballistic missiles and can evade radars.
Many experts expect North Korea to resume larger tests soon, including perhaps those with long-range ballistic missiles.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in January 2020 that he no longer felt bound by his moratorium imposed on long-range missile tests and nuclear tests.
Pyongyang has not conducted any nuclear tests or launched any intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, prior to the start of its diplomatic engagement with former US President Donald Trump.
Kim Jong Un has repeatedly tested shorter-range ballistic missiles, but former President Trump has downplayed them, calling them irrelevant.
North Korea banned from ballistic missile activity by UN Security Council resolutions./VOA