North Korea on Friday fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, its fifth such launch in two weeks, BBC reported, citing South Korean military officials. If the test is confirmed, this would be in violation of 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The missiles were fired from the city of Hamhung in the country’s South Hamgyong Province and landed in the Sea of Japan towards the east of the Korean peninsula. The missile flew at a distance of nearly 400 km, gaining an altitude of 48 km with maximum speed more than Mach 6.1, a South Korean military statement claimed.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described the latest missile tests as a “solemn warning”, according to AFP. South Korea, however, said that the act was a “show of force” against the joint military drills of the United States and South Korea.
More missile launches are expected from the country as the North Korean military had initiated its own summer exercises, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in a statement, according to Reuters. The launch followed hours after United States President Donald Trump said that he had received a “very beautiful letter” from the North Korean leader.
Trump downplayed the missile tests by North Korea on Friday, saying that there had been no nuclear tests. “The missile tests have all been short-range. No ballistic missile tests,” he was quoted as saying. “No long-range missiles.” The United States president said that Kim had expressed unhappiness about the war games and missile tests in his letter, adding that he could meet the North Korean leader again.
The United States and South Korea have initiated mostly computer-simulated drills, an alternative to previous large-scale yearly exercises that were stopped to start discussions on denuclearisation. North Korea had condemned such drills as it believed they were an attempt to remove Kim from the seat of power.
The United States and North Korea have attempted to discuss denuclearisation in the past but talks had failed before. The two leaders had met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore for a historic summit, following which Kim had committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula.
In June this year, the two leaders met again where Kim again committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula. Following the meeting, Trump had said the denuclearisation process for North Korea would start “very, very quickly”.