North Korea Fires Two Short-Range Ballistic Missiles, Says S. Korea’s Military

The missiles were launched from North Pyongan province in the country's northwest and flew eastward, the statement added

ballistic missiles
People watch a TV showing a news program reporting North Korea's missile launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, May 5, 2019. VOA

North Korea has fired what appears to be two short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea’s military said Thursday. It was the second time Pyongyang fired missiles in less than a week.

One of the projectiles traveled 420 kilometers and the other traveled 270 kilometers, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The missiles were launched from North Pyongan province in the country’s northwest and flew eastward, the statement added.

The province is home to a missile base at Sino-ri that houses the Nodong medium-range ballistic missile, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel program. At the White House Thursday, President Donald Trump said “nobody’s happy” about the development, adding that he doesn’t believe North Korea is ready to negotiate.

ballistic missiles
Sino-ri missile base, North Korea VOA

The province is home to a missile base at Sino-ri that houses the Nodong medium-range ballistic missile, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel program.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it is very worried about the apparent short-range missile launch, adding it does not hlep inter-Korean military tensions. South Korean officials say Seoul has increased security preparations in case of additional launches.

Recent tests

North Korea on Saturday tested what analysts described as a short-range ballistic missile. Before that, Kim had not tested a ballistic missile since November 2017.

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FILE – U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Feb. 3, 2019. VOA

The latest launch comes as Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, meets South Korean officials in Seoul. The tests threaten to further upend nuclear talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Last April, Kim announced he would suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. The self-imposed moratorium was never formalized, but has helped facilitate the two summits between Trump and Kim. North Korean state media on Wednesday characterized the Saturday launch as “self-defensive” and “nothing more than part of the regular military training.”

The missile launched Saturday appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile designed after a Russian weapon. In that test, North Korea also launched several other projectiles from a multiple rocket launcher.

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un supervises a “strike drill” for multiple launchers and tactical guided weapon into the East Sea during a military drill, May 4, 2019. VOA

Testing US limits

After that launch, analysts said they expected North Korea to continue to test weapons as a show of frustration at the stalled nuclear talks.

“The North Koreans are testing the U.S. response. They’re trying to find out where the ceiling is, in terms of U.S. tolerance for provocations,” said Scott Snyder at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It would appear that following these tests that the North Koreans may decide that they haven’t hit the ceiling.”

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For a year, Trump has said talks with Kim are progressing. As evidence, he cited a lack of nuclear and missile tests. Trump responded cautiously to the Saturday launch, saying he still believes Kim is open to a deal.

Kim wants the U.S. to relax sanctions in exchange for steps to dismantle his nuclear program. Trump says he will not ease sanctions until Kim commits to abandoning his whole nuclear arsenal. (VOA)

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