Via – Associated Press
North Korea on Thursday fired two projectiles into its eastern sea, an apparent resumption of weapons tests aimed at ramping up pressure on Washington over a stalemate in nuclear negotiations, according to officials in South Korea and Japan.
The launches followed statements of displeasure by top North Korean officials over the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the United States and demands that the Trump administration ease crippling sanctions and pressure on their country.
Analysts say the North could dial up its weapons demonstrations in the coming weeks as it approaches an end-of-year deadline set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the nuclear diplomacy.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons were fired from an area near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and flew about 370 kilometers (230 miles) across the country at a height of up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) before landing off its eastern coast. The Joint Chiefs of Staff urged the North to “immediately stop actions that do not help efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”
The military didn’t immediately confirm whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery. The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in described them as short-range projectiles.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said it believed they were ballistic missiles, but they did not reach Japan’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launches “as an act that threatens the peace and safety of Japan and the region.”
Seoul’s presidential Blue House said National Security Director Chung Eui-yong presided over an emergency National Security Council meeting where officials expressed “strong concern” and discussed North Korea’s possible intent.
Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol on Sunday said his country was running out of patience with the United States over what it described as unilateral disarmament demands, and warned that a close personal relationship between the leaders alone would not be enough to prevent nuclear diplomacy from derailing. He said the administration of President Donald Trump would be “seriously mistaken” if it ignores Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline.
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