NKorea Test-Fires More Missiles 08/24 08:59
North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east
coast on Saturday in the seventh weapons launch in a month, South Korea's
military said, a day after it vowed to remain America's biggest threat in
protest of U.S.-led sanctions on the country.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea fired two suspected short-range
ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday in the seventh weapons launch
in a month, South Korea's military said, a day after it vowed to remain
America's biggest threat in protest of U.S.-led sanctions on the country.
The North had been expected to halt weapons tests because the 10-day
U.S.-South Korean drills, which it views as an invasion rehearsal, ended
earlier this week.
President Donald Trump downplayed the latest launch.
"Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me. ... He likes
testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We'll see what
happens," Trump told reporters outside the White House late Friday night.
Saturday's launches were made from northeastern South Hamgyong province,
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They flew about 380 kilometers (236
miles) at the maximum altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles), the military said.
The Japanese government said the suspected missiles caused no damage and did
not land in its territorial waters.
South Korea's National Security Council expressed strong concern about the
launches and urged North Korea to stop acts that raise military tensions.
Council members said South Korea will launch diplomatic efforts to make North
Korea return to nuclear talks with the United States, according to the
North Korea's foreign minister said Friday his country will try to remain
"America's biggest threat" if the United States continues to confront it with
sanctions. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also called U.S. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo a "poisonous plant of American diplomacy" and vowed to "shutter the
absurd dream" that sanctions will force a change in Pyongyang.
Ri's blistering rhetoric and the missile launches may dim the prospect for
an early resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries. The top U.S.
envoy on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said Wednesday that Washington was ready
to restart the talks.
North Korea's anger over the U.S.-South Korean military drills had focused
on South Korea, not the United States. Starting in late July, North Korea has
tested a slew of weapons, mostly short-range missiles and rockets. Some of the
weapons revealed developments of a new rocket artillery system and two
different short-range mobile ballistic missiles that experts say would expand
its ability to strike targets throughout South Korea.
Many analysts said the tests were aimed at applying more pressure on the
United States ahead of a possible resumption of nuclear talks.
U.S.-led diplomacy to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons collapsed after
Trump rejected North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's demand for widespread
sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament steps during their second
summit in Vietnam in February. Trump and Kim met again at the Korean border in
late June and agreed to resume the talks.
Saturday's launches came two days after South Korea said it would terminate
a military intelligence-sharing deal with Japan amid bitter trade and history
disputes between the U.S. allies.
The decision drew criticism that it would end up weakening South Korea's
defense and reconnaissance capability at a time when North Korea's nuclear
threats remain intact. The United States, which wants stronger trilateral
security cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo, expressed disappointment at the
South Korean decision.
South Korea's military said it will share information on the latest North
Korean launches with Japan at Tokyo's request as the intelligence deal is valid
"We want to continue the cooperation among Japan, the U.S. and South Korea,"
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters. "North Korea's repeated
launches of projectiles and missiles show North Korea is working on developing