Just when it seemed like North Korea on a break from saber rattling, the reclusive nation spent Saturday shooting short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast. The launches — two in the morning and one in the afternoon — didn’t pose a threat to any of the North’s neighbors, and analysts told various news outlets their purpose was to remind everybody that the North had an arsenal of working missiles, apparently in response to joint American and South Korean naval exercises earlier this week.
The missiles have a range of 620 miles, CNN reports. “It’s a short-range tactical weapon. If any other country launched this kind of weapon, it’s a routine test, nobody would be too worried. It’s really simply because it’s North Korea doing this that it raises concerns,” Seoul-based journalist Andrew Salmon told the network.
“With the short-range missile tests, North Korea is reminding the United States and South Korea that it can escalate tensions again and follow up with more serious steps if things do not go in the direction it wants,” Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea analyst at Dongguk University in Seoul, told the New York Times.
North Korea itself said nothing about the missile launch, but its state-run media agency earlier called the naval exercises with the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz “a grave military provocation.” Compared to the usual hysterical tone of the North’s rhetoric, that’s downright muted.