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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

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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.

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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.”

ALSO READ: US Increased Tariffs on Chinese Imports go Into Effect, China to Take “Necessary Countermeasures”

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)

Next Story

Korean Soldiers Inspect The Demilitarized Border

The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953

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North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

Soldiers from North and South Korea criss-crossed their heavily-fortified border Wednesday to inspect efforts to remove front-line guard posts from their respective sides.

Inspection teams from South Korea were greeted by North Korean soldiers when they stepped into the Demilitarized Zone early Wednesday, both sides exchanging handshakes and cigarettes before the South Koreans crossed the border to begin their inspections.

The South Koreans visited 11 North Korean guard posts to make sure they had either been dismantled or disarmed, and if any underground structures were left undestroyed. North Korean inspection teams crossed the border hours later to perform similar inspections on 11 South Korean border posts.

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A train transporting dozens of South Korean officials runs on the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

Despite Wednesday’s action, about 200 manned guard posts still remain along the DMZ.

The border is the world’s most heavily fortified, filled with millions of landmines and marked by long lines of barbed wire fences.

The dismantling of the guard posts in the DMZ was part of a comprehensive military agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their third summit in September at Pyongyang.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in makes a toast with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a luncheon at Samjiyon Guesthouse in Ryanggang province, North Korea. VOA

The agreement, which is aimed at reducing military tensions on the Korean peninsula, included disarming the Joint Security Area – commonly referred to as the truce village of Panmunjon – including the removal of all landmines, guard posts, surveillance and other military equipment. They also agreed to reduce the number of personnel stationed at the JSA to just 35 unarmed guards, with the aim of reshaping it into a tourist attraction.

Also Read: Donald Trump Open to Meeting Kim Jong-un Again

The Joint Security Area, controlled by both Seoul and Pyongyang along with the U.S.-led United Nations Command, is the only spot within the 250-kilometer-long DMZ where troops from North and South Korea stand face-to-face. The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953, leaving North and South Korea in a technical state of war. (VOA)