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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea's missile launch spree shows Kim Jong Un's hand

Pyongyang times tests to threaten but not doom future diplomacy, economy hopes

(Nikkei montage/Reuters/KCNA)

TOKYO -- It is still January but North Korea has already launched four missiles this year. With Kim Jong Un's regime still on high alert amid the COVID-19 pandemic, what is the supreme leader trying to achieve with these missile launches and why now?

Analysts in military affairs and North Korea studies say the missile launches have solely military objectives. The country has developed new missile types largely as a deterrent against attacks by foreign countries, as it can now threaten to strike the U.S. and other nations. Tests are required to improve the technology and the accuracy of the missiles.

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