North Korea launched four missiles Monday morning, a provocative barrage that coincided both with joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the southern half of the peninsula and with the opening of the annual National People’s Congress in China.

The launches follow a remarkable month in which Kim Jong Un’s regime tested a solid-fuel rocket that it says is part of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States and in which the regime is accused of assassinating the leader’s half brother. Both actions have angered allies and adversaries in the region, and Monday’s launches will only exacerbate that.

“Every year this time, they try to do something to defy the exercises,” said Bruce Bennett, a North Korea expert at the Rand Corp. in California. “This time, I think they’re also interested in making a statement to the Chinese and to let Beijing know this coal ban is going to hurt,” he said, referring to Beijing’s decision last month to stop importing coal from North Korea, cutting off a major economic lifeline.

The four missiles were launched from a known launch site on North Korea’s west coast, not far from the border with China, at 7:36 a.m. local time.

 

Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

Featured image courtesy of Reuters.

 

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