N Korea fires unidentified projectiles


North Korean leader guides strike drill in the East Sea of Korea on 4 May.Image copyright

Image caption

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un supervised last week’s firings

North Korea has fired at least one unknown projectile, less than a week after it tested several short-range missiles, South Korea’s military says.

The projectile was fired from the Sino-ri location north-west of the capital, Pyongyang, toward the east.

The test comes as a top US envoy is in South Korea for talks on how to break the deadlock over nuclear negotiations.

Analysts say the North is trying to increase pressure on the US over its failure to make concessions.

A meeting in Vietnam between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump ended without agreement in February. Mr Trump walked away from what he described as a bad deal offered by Mr Kim.

What do we know about the latest firing?

The unidentified projectile was fired at about 16:30 local time (07:30 GMT), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, without providing further details.

Unconfirmed reports say it flew some 420km (260 miles) over the North Korean mainland. South Korean officials were still analysing whether it was a single or multiple projectiles.

Yang Uk, senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum, told Reuters news agency “there’s no doubt that it [was] a missile”.

Located some 75km from Pyongyang, the Sino-ri base is one of North Korea’s longest-running missile facilities, according to the Washington-based think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

What about the nuclear impasse?

Hours earlier, US Special Representative on North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in the South Korean capital Seoul to discuss ways of getting denuclearisation talks back on track.

Tensions have risen between the countries since their summit in Vietnam broke down, with the US insisting North Korea give up its nuclear programme and Pyongyang demanding sanctions relief.

On Saturday, the North tested several short-range missiles from the Hodo peninsula in the east of the country, according to South Korea.

The missile launch, the first since Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017, came after the country tested what it described as a new “tactical guided weapon” last month.

Last year, Mr Kim said he would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

The country claims it has developed a nuclear bomb small enough to fit on a long-range missile, as well as ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the US mainland.

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