SEOUL – North Korea launched on Thursday two short-range missiles, apparently expressing its anger over the upcoming United States-South Korea joint military exercises as well as displaying impatience over delay in resuming denuclearization dialog with Washington.
A spokesperson of the South Korean defense ministry told EFE that the first North Korean missile was launched at 5:34 am local time and the other 23 minutes later from near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan in the Hodo peninsula. The missiles were directed towards the Sea of Japan.
The firing of the missiles comes two days after the North Korean regime upped the ante by unveiling a new submarine, capable of launching ballistic missiles.
Thursday’s missile test was the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump agreed to revive the stalled talks to put pressure on Washington to return to the dialog table.
According to the South Korean ministry, one of the two missiles covered a distance of around 430 kilometers (267 miles), and the other flew 790 kilometers.
The ministry urged Pyongyang to desist from such actions which “do not contribute to reducing military tensions in the peninsula.”
Initially, it was thought that one of the two missiles could be based on the Russian short-range series Iskander, similar to the one launched by Pyongyang in May.
However, a press release by the South Korean presidential office later said the projectiles were a “new-type” of short-range missiles.
The release, which cited the National Security Council, added that the available data was still being analyzed in coordination with US experts and more accurate information will be released later.
Both of the missiles launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) on Thursday flew at a peak height of 50 km.
Launching short-range missiles does not violate Pyongyang’s 2017 self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile tests. But the May 4 launch – shrugged off by President Trump – was in violation of United Nations sanctions, which ban North Korea from carrying out any ballistic missile tests.
Thursday’s tests come after the regime recently protested against the US-South Korea joint military exercises “19-2 Dong Maeng,” set to be held in August.
Although Seoul and Washington have significantly reduced the scale of their drills since rapprochement began with Pyongyang in 2018, North Korea insists that the exercises violate the agreements reached between the two sides and are a rehearsal to invade its territory.
The regime has even said it would reject the consignment of food aid which South Korea is set to send over to alleviate the North’s food shortages, unless the exercises are canceled.
Earlier, Pyongyang unveiled its new submarine Sinpo C, the first North Korean submersible equipped with a submarine-launched ballistic missile and with operational capacity.
These moves appear to highlight North Korea’s impatience to resume the stalled nuclear dialog with Washington. The talks have remained stuck since the failed February summit in Hanoi between Kim and Trump.
The White House has said it had already made an offer to resume discussions, but there had been no response from Pyongyang, which suggests that the regime did not agree with the negotiating terms offered by the US.
In the Vietnamese capital, Pyongyang proposed a gradual denuclearization process in exchange for the lifting of sanctions while Washington said it would not relax any sanctions until the regime had eliminated its missile, nuclear, chemical and biological programs.
The impromptu summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on June 30, was expected to be followed by the resumption of working-level dialog by mid-July. But no meetings have been planned yet.