North Korea test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Wednesday, just days after it tested a cruise missile that analysts say could penetrate the South’s missile defense. The North hailed the Wednesday firing as a successful test of its railway-borne missile system.
“The railway-borne missile regiment took part in the drill with a mission to strike the target area 800 kilometers away from its location after moving to the central mountainous area at dawn on September 15,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korea has been developing its weapons program since it walked away from the last nuclear talks with the US fell apart, in October 2019. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently said Pyongyang could be resuming building weapons using its nuclear reactors.
Meanwhile, South Korea also tested its first homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) on Wednesday, using its Dosan Ahn Chang-ho class submarine revealed last month. The 3,000-ton vessel is believed to outcompete any North Korean ship.
But the test had been planned and was not a response to North Korea’s launches, according to Cheong Wa Dae. President Moon said bolstering missile capability is needed to rein in North Korea’s provocation
Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, lashed out at Moon, on Wednesday, describing him as foolish to say the Seoul’s missile could be a deterrence against Pyongyang’s “provocation.” Kim warned that inter-Korean relations would hit a new low if Moon keeps speaking the way he does.
Moon’s peace efforts have essentially been in limbo since North Korea demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in June last year to protest the way Seoul handles its anti-Pyongyang activists, who flew anti-Kim leaflets over the border despite the North’s protest.
Moon, who met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this week in Seoul, is looking to revive momentum for diplomacy with North Korea. Moon asked for China’s support in reopening dialogue and resuming inter-Korean exchanges.
The Two Koreas had missed the opportunity to revive the momentum for a thaw, as North Korea returned to escalating tension by accusing South Korea and the US of trying to build tension with their annual military drills that ended in late August.
Moon is flying to New York on Sunday to give a speech at the UN General Assembly, and his office had reached out to North Korea for a joint event at the gathering, but Pyongyang has not responded. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the two Koreas’ UN membership.
Experts said a last-minute breakthrough is not viable, given that the two Koreas have little to reconnect on with each other.
“The UN gathering was the one last good reason for the two to get along with each other, but North Korea isn’t up to talking to us, I think this is it,” said Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)Internet Explorer Channel Network