North Korea on Wednesday launched two cruise missiles, marking the country’s first missile tests since June 5. According to the New York Times, which cited the South Korean Defense Ministry, the missiles were fired from the west coast of North Korea.
The launch appeared timed to occur ahead of military exercises between the United States and South Korea. The exercises, called Ulchi Freedom Shield, are set to begin next week and last for eleven days.
Per CNN, the United States and South Korea are “analyzing the launch for further details.” North Korea is not barred by UN resolutions from launching cruise missiles, although it is banned from firing ballistic missiles, as it did earlier this year.
There are fears that North Korea is preparing to carry out a nuclear test, which it has not done in more than five years due to a self-imposed moratorium.
Earlier in the week, South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol proposed in a speech to offer North Korea economic incentives in exchange for denuclearization.
“The audacious initiative that I envision will significantly improve North Korea’s economy and its people’s livelihoods in stages if the North ceases the development of its nuclear program and embarks on a genuine and substantive process for denuclearization,” Yoon said in the speech earlier this week.
“We don’t insist that North Korea should first denuclearize completely before we will do anything,” Yoon told the press this week, per the Times. “If North Korea demonstrates a firm will to denuclearize, we will do what we can.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week had also called for the denuclearization of North Korea, which drew condemnation from Kim Son-gyong, North Korea’s vice foreign minister for international organizations.
"I cannot but express deep regret over the said remarks of the UN secretary-general that grossly lack impartiality and fairness and go against the obligations of his duty, specified in the UN Charter, as regards the issue of the Korean peninsula,” Kim said.
“The so-called CVID, touted by the U.S. and its vassal forces, is just an infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK as it demands the unilateral disarmament, and Secretary-General Guterres perhaps knows well that the DPRK has totally rejected it without any toleration," he added, calling North Korea’s nuclear ambitions an “inevitable choice.”
Meanwhile, a report last week stated that North Korea may have lied about its March intercontinental ballistic missile test. According to reports, the missile might not have been the regime’s touted Hwasong-17 missile, and the propaganda videos released at the time were misleading.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.