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South Korea says North Korea has test-fired a barrage of eight short-range ballistic missiles from multiple locations toward the sea, extending a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations this year that U.S. and South Korean officials say may culminate with a nuclear test explosion. The launches were North Korea’s 18th round of missile tests in 2022 alone. Experts say leader Kim Jong Un wants to cement his country's status as a nuclear power and negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength. U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea discussed the launches with South Korean officials while on a visit to Seoul. They expressed “deep regret” that North Korea was continuing weapons development despite a COVID-19 outbreak at home.
President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea is monitoring North Korean arrangements for a possible nuclear test explosion that outside officials say could be imminent. The envoy said Friday the United States is “preparing for all contingencies” in close coordination with its South Korean and Japanese allies. American diplomat Sung Kim was in Seoul for a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to discuss the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program. North Korea has ramped up missile tests in 2022, exploiting a favorable environment to push forward weapons development as the United Nations Security Council remains divided over Russia’s war on Ukraine.