North Korea fires pair of projectiles presumed to be cruise missiles in fifth test this year

(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea fired a pair of projectiles on Tuesday morning believed to be cruise missiles, a South Korean official told ABC News.

An official with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said the projectiles were detected by South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies, which are analyzing the launch. Further details were not immediately available.

North Korea has test-fired missiles at least five times this year. North Korean state media boasted the successful launches of hypersonic missiles on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, followed by a short-range ballistic missile from a train car on Jan. 14 and another short-range ballistic missile from the Sunan airport in the capital, Pyongyang, on Jan. 17.

The latest launch came just five days after North Korea implied it would withdraw from a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, blaming the U.S. for the failed trust between the two countries.

“The hostile policy and military threat by the U.S. have reached a danger line that cannot be overlooked anymore despite our sincere efforts for maintaining the general tide for relaxation of tension in the Korean peninsula since the DPRK-U.S. summit in Singapore,” North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported last Thursday.

Testing cruise missiles does not violate the resolutions the United Nations Security Council imposed on North Korea to curb its nuclear and missile activities, but Seoul-based analysts presumed that Pyongyang’s latest launch was aimed at South Korea and the U.S.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in South Korea’s capital, said the reclusive regime wants “to prove to the outside world that they are capable of bolstering its defense.”

“North Korea aims to enhance its presence in the international community ahead of their most revered anniversaries of the late leader and founder of the country,” Yang told ABC News on Tuesday.

Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies in Seoul, said North Korea is purposely launching missiles that will be detected by South Korean and U.S. radars in order to be noticed.

“The continued missile testing is nothing new in North Korea’s viewpoint because Kim Jong Un forewarned during last year multiple times that the regime will keep developing missiles and nuclear weapons for their defense,” Cha told ABC News on Tuesday. “Pyongyang aims to show its citizens that the leader’s words will eventually come true despite the economic difficulties, and also prove to the international community that they are gearing up the military capabilities, enough to become a threat.”

ABC News’ Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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