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North Korea eschews mention of cruise missile tests

North Korea eschews mention of cruise missile tests
North Korea fired missiles on Tuesday, but state media has yet to report on the weapons tests that were confirmed in the South. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

April 15 (UPI) -- North Korea state media did not mention the launches of what are believed to be cruise missiles as the regime may have quietly celebrated the 108th birth anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung on Wednesday.

News of the launches of the missiles on Tuesday, confirmed by South Korea's military, were not publicized in North Korea. Rodong Sinmun and state-controlled news agency KCNA did not highlight the launches on Wednesday.

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The lack of coverage is atypical for North Korea. Pyongyang has publicized weapons tests in recent months. Kim Jong Un also attended drills in March that have been widely interpreted as provocative by the outside world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday's missile tests were largely dismissed at the Pentagon, however. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said at a briefing Tuesday the reasons for the tests are not clear.

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"It's mixed right now in terms of the assessment," he said. "I don't think it's particularly provocative or threatening to us as to what happened. It may be tied to some celebrations that are happening inside North Korea, as opposed to any deliberate provocation against us."

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North Korea has yet to report on Kim's movements on the key anniversary on Wednesday. Since 2012, the North Korean leader attended memorials on April 15 to pay his respects to his biological grandfather.

A South Korean analyst told local news service News 1 Kim could be avoiding indoor public events that could be "burdensome" for the leadership in the middle of a pandemic. Reports of any official ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun could follow on Thursday, but with a reduced number of participants, the analyst added.

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North Korea has cut back substantially on public events since the first outbreak of the novel coronavirus was reported in China in January. The country may have experienced substantial loss of revenue after shutting down international tourism. The Pyongyang Marathon and Spring Friendship Art Festival, which takes place in every April, have been canceled, according to News 1.

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