North Korea fires suspected missiles into ocean, nuclear talks in doubt

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North Korea fired at least two projectiles early on Thursday from its eastern coast, which Japanese government sources confirmed were short-range ballistic missiles, said Kyodo news.

The projectiles launched from near Wonsan flew about 430 km to the east, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. A Japanese government source told Kyodo the missiles did not reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone and had no impact on Japan’s national security.

At least one of the two missiles was a newly developed design and flew some 690 km (428 miles), an official at South Korea’s defense ministry told Reuters.

The other missile travelled about 430 km (267 miles) before coming down in the sea off North Korea’s east coast, the official said, adding that a detailed analysis was being done to verify if the two missiles were the same model.

The firing of ballistic missiles would cast new doubts on efforts to restart denuclearization talks after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the end of June.

The White House, Pentagon, and US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A senior US administration official said: “We are aware of reports of a short-range projectile launched from North Korea. We have no further comment.”

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, who has taken a hard line towards North Korea, made no mention of the launches in a tweet on Thursday morning after a visit to South Korea, referring only to “productive meetings” with South Korean officials on regional security and building a stronger alliance.

The United States and North Korea vowed to soon hold new rounds of working-level talks, but Pyongyang has since sharply criticized upcoming joint military drills by US and South Korean troops.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said earlier this month that Washington’s pattern of “unilaterally reneging on its commitments” by holding military exercises with South Korea was leading Pyongyang to reconsider its commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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