On Saturday (August-10) North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, according to South Korea’s military.
Its fifth round of launches in less than three weeks was likely another protest at the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the United States and continuance of US-South Korea joint military exercises which the North Korea says are aimed at a northward invasion.
The South’s military alerted reporters to the launches hours after US President Donald Trump said he received a “beautiful” three-page letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and predicted that they will have more talks to try resolving the nuclear stand-off.
US President Donald Trump reiterated that he was not bothered by the flurry of short-range weapons Trump has launched, despite the growing threat they pose to US allies in the region. Trump said Pyongyang has never broken its pledge to pause nuclear tests.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the presumed ballistic missiles were fired from the North’s eastern coast and flew about 400km on an apogee of 48km, before landing in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan. Seoul’s presidential Blue House said the tests were likely aimed at verifying the reliability of the North’s newly developed weapons and also demonstrating displeasure over the allied drills.
He said that the North has unleashed a series of test firings of short-range weapons in recent weeks while saying that the joint military drills between the allies compel it to “develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defence.”
The North Korea did not immediately comment on the launches.
South Korea has said that the weapons tests don’t help efforts to stabilise peace and called for Pyongyang to uphold an inter-Korean agreement reached last year to form a joint military committee to discuss reducing military tensions.
President Donald Trump gets letter from North Korea, says agrees with Kim on US-Seoul drill.The missile tests come amid stalled talks on the North’s nuclear programme. So far, North Korea has stuck by its unilateral suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests, which came during a diplomatic outreach to Washington last year.
Experts said that Trump’s downplaying the North’s launches allowed the country more room to intensify its testing activity while it seeks to build leverage ahead of negotiations, which could possibly resume sometime after the end of the allies’ drills later this month.
Leif-Eric Easley, an expert at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University said that North Korea is also looking to exploit Trump’s preoccupation with getting South Korea to pay more for US troop deployment in the country as well as Seoul’s worsening relations with Tokyo over an escalating trade war that is spilling over to security issues. South Korea has threatened to end a military intelligence sharing agreement with Japan in what’s seen as an attempt to pressure the United States into mediating the dispute.
“Kim appeals to Trump directly about the exercises, trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul,” Easley told that “Meanwhile, North Korean propaganda supports rising anti-Japan sentiment in South Korea, calculating that a diplomatically isolated Seoul will be more subject to Pyongyang’s coercion.”
The North described recent test-firings as a new rocket artillery system and short-range ballistic missile launches. The North’s state media said that Kim, while supervising a live-fire demonstration of newly developed, short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday, told that the launches were intended to send a warning to Washington and Seoul over their military drills.North Korea warns of more missile tests as Seoul and US begin war games.