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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
North Korea has launched six short range missiles from its East Coast over the past three days. The Korean People’s Army launched three on Saturday, one on Sunday, and a further two on Monday.
“These three missile tests could be seen as a scheduled drill in reaction to the USS Nimitz and the U.S.-ROK marine force exercise held recently,” North Korea expert Steve Chung told NK News on Saturday.
KCNA said U.S. and South Korean criticism of the launches “was another unpardonable challenge to the DPRK and an undisguised provocation,” adding that they were nothing more than a “KPA Regular Military Drill”.
The projectiles being fired are thought to be KN-02 missiles or “new 300mm artillery rockets”. They are not ‘rocket’ tests or ICBM launches.
KN-02 missiles are mobile missiles. Based on the Soviet-era OTR-21 Tochka, they are launched from the back of SCUD-like trucks and, of all North Korean missiles, they have the shortest range.
But Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group thinks the projectiles could be 300mm artillery rockets. “Still sorting out whether NK launched KN-02s or new 300mm artillery rockets under development. Artillery rockets would have 100km+ range,” he said on Twitter.
In April North Korea moved two mid-range Musudan missiles to its East Coast amid heightened tensions with the U.S. and South Korea.
The missiles were never launched, but contradictory intelligence leaks have since suggested the DPRK may be deliberately moving the missiles along the East Coast to mislead satellite monitors.