North Korea Fires Missiles After Criticizing Weapons Charge

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea fired multiple short-range ballistic missiles toward waters off its east coast, hours after the outspoken sister of leader Kim Jong Un blasted as “fiction” accusations that her nation was exporting weapons to Russia.

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement the missiles were fired from the Wonsan area at around 3:10 p.m., and the military has “strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches.”

The test is the first in about a month and came hours after Kim Yo Jong, a prominent figure for leading pressure campaigns against the US and South Korea, was quoted by North Korea’s official media as taking aim at the US over its accusations of arms transfers.

“The hostile forces are misleading the public opinion with a false rumor that the weapon systems produced by the DPRK are ‘for export to Russia,’” state media quoted her as saying. She was referring to North Korea by its formal name.

“We have no intention to export our military technical capabilities to any country or open them to the public,” she said.

North Korea typically does not comment on launches until the following day.

Before she spoke, the US announced new sanctions on the arms trade that Washington says is helping to power the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine. A Treasury Department statement said Russia has used upward of 40 ballistic missiles and other munitions in the war, contravening United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Read More: Kim Jong Un’s Sister Slams Weapons Claims After New US Sanctions

This is the fifth test of ballistic missiles from Kim Jong Un’s regime this year. On April 22, the North Korean leader oversaw a simultaneous launch of four short-range ballistic missiles. He guided tests about a week ago of precision artillery rockets that can strike the Seoul area, which may have been a display to help with sales to the Kremlin.

Despite international sanctions that bar Pyongyang from exporting its weapons, many satellite photos released by research groups and the US government have shown a flow of arms from North Korea to Russia and then to munitions dumps near the border with Ukraine.

The US, South Korea and others have accused North Korea of sending to Russia massive amounts of artillery shells along with its newest family of short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which are easy to hide and quick to deploy.

Russia is providing North Korea with food, raw materials and parts used in weapons manufacturing, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik has said. The food has helped Kim’s regime stabilize prices for necessities.

If the arms transfers grow, Russia will likely send more military technology to Kim, increasing Pyongyang’s threat to the region, Shin added.

--With assistance from Seyoon Kim.

(Updates with details on launch.)

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