North Korea says latest launch a warning to warmongers

27 Juillet, 2019, 01:35 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

Kim Jong-un launched two "new design" missiles on Thursday despite agreeing to start talks with US President Donald Trump again. The Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to elaborate after making the announcement early on Thursday morning local time. A North Korean version could likely reach all of South Korea - and the 28,500 U.S. forces stationed there - and would be extremely hard to intercept. The launches happened along the eastern coast of North Korea early this morning - something which appears to have seriously alarmed South Korea.

"Kim clearly believes that's a violation of a personal commitment Trump made to him in Singapore", where the US President said the US would drop joint military exercises with South Korea, he told CNN, adding that if the exercises continue, "all bets are off".

In April 2019, satellite images showed movement at North Korea's main nuclear site, which a U.S. think tank said could be associated with the reprocessing of radioactive material into bomb fuel.

While Trump repeatedly sought to play down North Korea's last short-range ballistic missile test in May, experts said the new missiles are a direct threat to Seoul, capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads and created to fly low enough to potentially avoid detection and interception by South Korea's THAAD and Patriot missile defense systems. Instead, the North has continued escalating provocations and threats, in what analysts say is an attempt to improve its negotiating position.

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

Trump has repeatedly insisted that his personal relationship with Kim is strong enough to keep a dialogue with the North on track in the face of provocations like short-range missile launches.

A senior USA administration official told CNN that they are "aware of reports of a short-range projectile launched from North Korea" but declined to offer further comment.

"There was a little correspondence recently, very positive correspondence with North Korea".

The North is unhappy over planned U.S. South Korea's presidential Blue House described the weapons as "a new kind of short-range ballistic missiles".

Even China made a statement on the launches with Reuters reporting they want the USA and North Korea to get back to the negotiating table.

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North Korea has been urging the USA and South Korea to scrap their summertime military drills.

"It's not clear whether Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch on-site", the official said, referring to the North Korean leader.

North Korea's economy shrank in 2018 by the most in 21 years after being hit by punishing sanctions to curb its nuclear weapons programme and after drought damaged its farming sector, South Korea's central bank revealed on Friday. Earlier this week Mr Kim inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

The US and South Korea regularly conduct joint military drills, but they suspended or scaled back a number of recent exercises part of an effort to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

But the failure to reach an agreement over relief from USA sanctions, and what the North was willing to give in return, led to the failure of their second summit in Hanoi.

The ballistic missiles test-fired by Pyongyang are similar to Russia's 9K720 Iskander system (NATO reporting name: SS-26 Stone) and are capable of flying to a range of about 600 km, the news agency said.

In this Thursday, July 25, 2019, photo provided on Friday, July 26, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a missile test in North Korea.

Thursday's launches came a day after Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, held talks with senior South Korean officials in Seoul.

About 29,000 USA soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.

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