North Korea on Thursday fired two projectiles from what appeared to be a very large multiple-rocket launcher, South Korea’s military said, according to Yonhap news agency. The projectiles were fired from Yeonpo in South Hamgyong Province of North Korea into the waters off the east coast, around 4.59 pm local time (1.29 pm Indian Standard Time).
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea said that both projectiles flew around 380 km, and reached an altitude of around 97 km. “South Korean and US intelligence authorities are analysing additional features,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press release. “Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that North Korea’s actions will not help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Major General Jeong Dong-jin said: “Our military expresses strong regret over the acts and urges North Korea to immediately stop such moves.”
This is the 13th time this year that North Korea has carried out a weapons test. The last such test was conducted on October 31, when Pyongyang fired two missiles from its large multiple rocket launcher towards the East Sea.
On October 1, the United States and North Korea had announced a resumption of dialogue on nuclear weapons. North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said in a statement that the talks will be held on October 5. The US and North Korea agreed to have “preliminary contact” on October 4 and hold negotiations the following day.
However, negotiations have stalled since then. On Wednesday and Thursday, Washington flew three spy planes over the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has given Washington until the end of the year to put forward a new proposal that could break the deadlock in talks, failing which it said it would try a “new way”.
US-North Korea dialogue
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President 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 in February this 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.
However, tensions escalated in May when Pyongyang fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017. This was followed by the testing of more ballistic missiles in July. US-South Korea military exercises also resumed in the aftermath of the May tests.