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N Korea missile launch a ‘sombre warning’ to S Korea

People watch missile launch on television

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

The test involved new short-range missiles

North Korea has said the test of two new missiles on Thursday is a “solemn warning” against what it described as “South Korean warmongers”.

The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.

Leader Kim Jong-un said his country was forced to develop weapons to “eliminate potential and direct threats”.

He said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one of the missiles travelled about 690km (428 miles).

The US has also confirmed that the missiles were “short range”. Japan confirmed that the missiles did not reach its waters.

What did Kim Jong-un say?

Mr Kim said he was “satisfied” with the new weapons system’s response and claimed it would “not be easy to defend against”.

He said that South Korea should “not make a mistake of ignoring the warning”.

South Korea has urged Pyongyang to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension and said the tests posed a military threat.

The US State Department urged North Korea to refrain from further provocations.

What is the context?

The test is the first since Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump met at the De-Militarised Zone, an area that divides the two Koreas, on 30 June.

The launch also comes after anger from the North over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. The North warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearisation talks.

Media captionThe nuclear word Trump and Kim can’t agree on

Though the US and South Korea have refused to cancel the military exercises, they have been scaled back significantly.

Last year, Mr 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 Mr Kim inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

Image copyright
European Photopress Agency

Image caption

Mr Kim spoke to reporters after inspecting the submarines

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

Mr Trump had responded then by saying he believed Mr 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”.

N Korea missile launch a ‘sombre warning’ to S Korea}

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