North Korea has fired multiple suspected cruise missiles on Tuesday, according to the South Korean military. Analysts said that the North was demonstrating breadth of its arsenal.
The missiles were fired towards the sea, while the projectiles were fired from Munchon, located in the east of North Korea. South Korea believes it to be "short-range cruise missiles", according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported AFP.
This came a day before the South Korean parliamentary elections and mainly when the world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic. However, Pyongyang maintained that it has't been affected by COVID-19.
It also marks a day before 108th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, founder of the Democratic Peoples Republic, who is also the grandfather Kim Jong Un, the country's present leader.
Pyongyang has a history of testing ballistic missiles in the yester years. The country is home to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) having the ability to reach the US mainland. However, cruise missiles travel just a few meters above the surface, at very low altitudes which makes them difficult to be detected.
Such missiles are often highly maneuverable and need guidance systems to reach their targets. So they are powered throughout the flight. The launched missiles traveled over the East Sea or the Sea of Japan before they went into the waters, the JCS said. On Tuesday, the missiles traveled about 150 Km, according to Seoul, while experts said that these short range missiles seem to have been chosen deliberately by the North.
The South's spokesperson said that the North flew multiple Sukhoi-variant and MiG fighter jets on the city of Wonsan in the east coast, and fired many air-to-ground rockets, while the experts are closely monitoring the issue.
A senior researcher from Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Cha Du-Hyeogn, said that Pyongyang demonstrated that there were "various options" to use for its weapons delivery systems. "Ballistic missiles demonstrate destructive power while cruise missiles show accuracy," he added. North Korea is currently showing its accuracy in striking targets, while previously it had shown its force.
There are multiple UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea as per the banned weapons program. But the country took to a series of weapon tests in previous months. Back in 2017 June, there was a successful test of a new type of 'surface-to-ship' cruise missile. Kim and Trump exchanged mutual insults and threats of war then.
Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been deadlocked after the Hanoi summit in February 2019, due to disagreement on relieving sanctions and the North giving up, in return.
Analyst Myong-hyun from Asan Institute for Policy Studies said that the north was treading carefully and trying to raise tensions, but these tensions were not that high. He wouldn't be surprised, he said, if the North undertakes more tests to alarm its neighbors, or if they declare that there are ready for talks.