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North Korea confirms barrage of missile tests as Kim Jong-un visits weapons factory | North Korea

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North Korea has tested more long-range cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles, according to state media, in a record slew of launches this year.

Pyongyang has carried out six weapons tests since the start of the year, including hypersonic missiles, one of the most intense barrages on record in a calendar month, while ignoring US offers of talks.

On Friday, the official Korean Central News Agency said it “conducted the test firing to update the long-range cruise missile system and the test firing to confirm the power of the warhead conventional for the surface-to-surface tactical guided missile”.

KCNA said Tuesday’s test involved long-range cruise missiles flying over the East Sea – also known as the Sea of ​​Japan – and hitting “the target island 1,800 km away”.

Thursday’s launch then saw short-range ballistic missiles hit a “target island”, KCNA added, “proving that the explosive power of the conventional warhead met design requirements”.

The wave of anti-sanctions tests this month comes after the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, reaffirmed his commitment to military modernization in a party speech in December.

Washington has imposed new sanctions in response, prompting Pyongyang to double down on weapons testing and hinting last week that it may drop a self-imposed, years-long moratorium on nuclear and long-range testing.

Kim also visited an ammunition factory that produces “a major weapon system”, KCNA said.

In a photo released by the news agency, a beaming Kim, wearing his usual long black-belted leather coat, is seen surrounded by uniformed officials.

Kim “highly appreciated the factory achieving collective innovation and rapid progress in the production of major weapons,” KCNA reported.

The round of testing comes at a delicate time in the region, with Kim’s only major ally China set to host the Winter Olympics next month and South Korea gearing up for a presidential election in March.

Domestically, North Korea is gearing up to celebrate the 80th birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il in February, as well as the 110th birthday of founder Kim Il-sung in April.

North Korea confirms barrage of missile tests as Kim Jong-un visits weapons factory | North Korea

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