Photo/IllutrationNorth Korea fires a short-range ballistic missile from a “super-large multiple rocket launcher.” The test was reported by the Korean Central News Agency on Nov. 29. (Provided by Korean News Service)

SEOUL--North Korea will likely increase its missile launches toward the end of December as the year-end deadline approaches for a new denuclearization proposal from the United States, according to defense experts here.

Pyongyang test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles from what it called a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” on Nov. 28. The projectiles landed in waters between North Korea and Japan. North Korea also test-fired missiles in October.

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), North Korea’s firing of a series of projectiles over the past months is intended to put pressure on the United States to break the deadlock in their denuclearization talks.

“The missile launches signal that Pyongyang is willing to return to provocations that it had used in the past if its demands were not met,” the NIS said. “Toward the deadline, Pyongyang will continue its provocations in various forms.”

The launches are also designed to keep the North Korean military in check and prevent any possible defiance against the regime of Kim Jong Un, the NIS said.

The NIS noted advances in North Korea’s missile technology with the Nov. 28 test, citing the fact that the interval between the two launches was cut to only 30 seconds.

North Korea is believed to have been developing four types of new missiles since May, according to defense experts.

They also said Pyongyang could reopen the Punggyeri nuclear test site in the northeastern part of the country that it blew up in 2018 to demonstrate its willingness to move toward denuclearization.

North Korea also has the option of firing rockets to further develop its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But Pyongyang will likely proceed in a step-by-step manner to avoid “overturning the negotiation table” with Washington, according to a senior official with the South Korean government.

Another concern for North Korea is a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls on member states not to renew contracts with North Koreans working in their countries and to refrain from hiring additional North Korean workers by the end of this year.

Repatriation of these workers would seriously damage a key source of foreign currency for North Korea.

Choi Sun Hee, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, visited Russia in mid-November for apparent consultations over the issue.