New North Korean projectile launch detected, say US officials

Satellite image of the launch point and exhaust trail of a new short-range ballistic missile test in North Korea on May 4, 2019. (Reuters)

North Korea appears to have carried out a new projectile launch, two US officials said on Thursday, adding that initial information indicated it was similar to previous tests carried out by Pyongyang.

One of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the launch did not pose a threat to North America. The official said it was unclear how many projectiles had been launched.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, only days after it launched two similar missiles on July 25.

Earlier on Thursday and before the latest launch, a senior US official said North Korea’s latest missile launches did not violate a pledge that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made to US President Donald Trump not to test long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

The two leaders agreed at a June 30 meeting to revive stalled denuclearization talks, but efforts to resume the negotiations remain in doubt. Diplomats have criss-crossed the region this week in the hope of restarting the talks.

The latest launches appeared intended to put pressure on South Korea and the United States to stop planned military exercises, analysts said.

A summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February collapsed after the two sides failed to reconcile differences between US demands for North Korea’s complete denuclearization and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.  

South Korea: North Korea launched projectiles into sea 

South Korea’s military said North Korea fired unidentified projectiles twice on Friday into the sea off its eastern coast in its third weapons tests in just over a week.

The North’s increased testing activity is seen as brinkmanship aimed at increasing pressure on Seoul and Washington over the slow pace of nuclear negotiations.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches were conducted at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. from an eastern coastal area but did not immediately confirm how many projectiles were fired or how far they flew.

The North fired short-range ballistic missiles on July 25 and conducted what it described as a test firing of a new multiple rocket launcher system on Wednesday.

Not worried about short-range missiles, says Trump

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was not worried about missiles being tested by North Korea, calling them very standard, short-range devices.

Trump was asked about the missile launches as he departed the White House on a trip to Ohio. Asked whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was testing him by carrying out a third missile test in recent days, Trump told reporters: “I think it’s very much under control, very much under control”

Trump added the missile launches did not violate any promises Kim had made to him.

They were “short-range missiles,” Trump said. “We never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short range missiles. They are very standard.”

At UN, N. Korea urged to hold ‘meaningful’ talks with US 

Britain, France and Germany called on North Korea to engage in “meaningful” talks with the United States and said international sanctions need to be fully enforced until Pyongyang has dismantled its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The statement came after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Thursday on North Korea’s latest missile launches.

“International sanctions need to remain in place and be fully enforced until North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled,” British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce said, with her French and German counterparts beside her.

“It is vital that the Security Council shows unity in upholding its resolutions,” she told reporters.

The 15-member Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang’s missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

Chinese President Xi Jinping - an ally of neighbor North Korea - urged US President Donald Trump to ease sanctions on North Korea during their meeting in Japan in June, China’s Foreign Ministry has said.

Trump then met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - their third meeting since June last year - and agreed to revive stalled denuclearization talks.

“We urge North Korea to take concrete steps towards its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the US as agreed between President Trump and Kim Jong Un on 30 June,” Pierce said.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, days after Pyongyang launched two similar missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to scrap upcoming military drills.

The UN Security Council has banned North Korea’s use of ballistic missiles.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:00 - GMT 07:00
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