The South Korean military on Thursday said North Korea fired two short-range missiles earlier in the day from its east coast, Reuters reported. This is the first missile test by North Korea since its leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump agreed to revive stalled denuclearisation talks after meeting at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas in June.
The missiles, launched from a place close to the coastal city of Wonsan, flew about 430 km and reached an altitude of 50 km before falling into the Sea of Japan, an unidentified official at South Korea’s defense ministry told Reuters.
Last week, North Korea had warned that the upcoming military drills by the United States and South Korea could impact nuclear peace talks. The joint drills have been held for years but were scaled down after Trump’s historic first summit with Kim in Singapore last year to facilitate dialogue with Pyongyang.
“North Korea is clearly upset that the US and South Korea are conducting joint military exercises,” said Harry Kazianis of Washington’s Center for the National Interest. “We should not be shocked by this move and, in fact, we should have seen it coming.”
South Korea’s presidential office said it was conducting detailed analysis of the incident with the United States. The country’s defence ministry also urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful for easing tension, and said the latest test posed a military threat.
An unidentified US official said according to initial information at least one short-range projectile was fired from North Korea. Further analysis was underway, Reuters reported.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test had no immediate impact on Japan’s security, Kyodo News reported.
A United Nations resolution bans North Korea from building or testing ballistic missiles. It is not clear if Kim Jong-un oversaw the missile launch.
US-North Korea dialogue
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, following which Kim committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula. In response, Trump announced the suspension of Washington’s “very provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea.
Trump and Kim held a second meeting in Vietnam later in the year but it ended abruptly following a disagreement over sanctions imposed on North Korea. In March, North Korea promised further negotiations on its nuclear weapons with the United States despite both countries failing to reach a deal at the Hanoi summit.
Tensions escalated in May when Pyongyang fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017. Trump, however, dismissed concerns over the missile testing.