Alexa North Korea fires two missiles

Dhaka, Monday   23 September 2019


North Korea fires two missiles

 International Desk

 Published: 11:14 AM, 25 July 2019   Updated: 06:59 PM, 25 July 2019

File Photo

File Photo

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea from its east coast early on Thursday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The missiles were launched from near the coastal city of Wonsan, travelling a distance of 430km (270 miles) and reaching an altitude of 50km before falling into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

It comes after anger from the North over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US next month. The North warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearisation talks.

The first missile was launched at about 05:34 Thursday local time (20:34 GMT Wednesday) and the second at 05:57, said the JCS. They were launched near the eastern city of Wonsan. It is not clear if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw this launch.

North Korea arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said in a tweet that the missile "looked like a pair of KN-23s".

According to Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, KN-23s are capable of delivering a "nuclear-weapon sized payload... far enough to target most US forces in South Korea".

South Korea's defence ministry has urged Pyongyang to stop acts that it said were unhelpful for easing tension, reported Reuters.

Japan's defence minister said the launches did not reach Japanese waters and had no immediate impact on its national security.

After an invite on Twitter in June, US President Donald Trump and his counterpart Mr Kim had an impromptu meeting at the demilitarised zone that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restart denuclearisation talks.

Following that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said working-level talks would likely start in July, but there have been no further public meetings between US and North Korean officials.

But North Korea has condemned the planned US-South Korea military drills next month, calling it a "violation of the spirit" of the joint statement signed by Trump and Kim at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.

"North Korea is clearly upset that the US and South Korea are conducting joint military exercises," Harry Kazianis of Washington's Center for the National Interest told news agency Reuters.

Last year, Kim said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea's main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

Pyongyang also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week r Kim inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch in May, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.

Trump had responded then by saying he believed Kim would not do anything that could jeopardise his country's path towards better relations.

He had tweeted that Mr Kim "knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me". - BBC, Reuters