North Korea fires short-range missiles into sea

A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 23 July 2019 shows Kim Jong-Un (C), speaking to officials after making a round of the newly-laid down submarine at an undisclosed location in North Korea.Image copyright
European Photopress Agency

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It is not clear whether Kim Jong-un oversaw the launch at the site

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

They were launched early on Thursday, travelling a distance of 430km (270 miles) and reaching an altitude of 50km before falling into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

It comes after anger from the North over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US next month.

The North warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearisation talks.

The missiles were launched near the eastern city of Wonsan. It is not clear if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw this launch.

Japan’s defence minister clarified that the launches did not reach Japanese waters and had no immediate impact on its national security.

US President Donald Trump and his counterpart Mr Kim had an impromptu meeting on 30 June at the demilitarised zone that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restart talks.

Following that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said working-level talks would likely start in July, though its unclear if that has happened.

But North Korea has condemned the planned US-South Korea military drills next month, calling it a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement signed by Mr Trump and Mr Kim at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.

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Getty Images

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The two leaders held an impromptu meeting at the Korean demilitarised zone

“North Korea is clearly upset that the US and South Korea are conducting joint military exercises,” Harry Kazianis of Washington’s Center for the National Interest told news agency Reuters.

Last year, Mr Kim said North Korea 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.

Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch in May, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.

Mr Trump had responded then by saying he believed Mr Kim would not do anything that could jeopardise his country’s path towards better relations.

He had tweeted that Mr Kim “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.

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