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North Korea fuels bid for ‘new Cold War’ with failed missile launch after Russia treaty

“North Korea fired a ballistic missile from Pyongyang to the East Sea at 5.30am this morning. The missile is believed to have failed,” the South Korean military chiefs said in a statement.

In response to the launch, South Korea’s Marine Corps on Wednesday resumed a full-scale live-fire exercise on islands near the disputed inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea for the first time in seven years.

The Marine Corps said its troops fired more than 290 live rounds into waters off the Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong islands during the drills, which involved K9 howitzers, Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems and Spike anti-tank missiles.

In 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing four South Koreans, in protest against the South’s firing of artillery shells into the sea during a drill.

Solid-fuel missiles are considered harder to detect than liquid-fuel ones ahead of launch as they require fewer preparation procedures.

Hypersonic missiles were a key element in the North’s five-year defence build-up plan, which is slated to wrap up next year, said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies.

“This is a political bonanza for the North,” he said, noting North Korea was obtaining economic gains and technology from Russia in return for supplying ammunition and playing Moscow against Beijing to draw both closer to itself.

Other projects in the defence plan adopted at the North’s eighth party congress in 2021 involved intercontinental ballistic missiles, multiple warhead guidance technology, nuclear submarines and military reconnaissance satellites.

Code-named Freedom Edge, the exercise takes its name from bilateral exercises the US holds with its Asian allies including Freedom Shield with South Korea and