Sunday 16 June 2019

North Korea fires unidentified projectile, claims South

Pyongyang and the US are deadlocked in diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear arsenal.

Kim Jong Un (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
Kim Jong Un (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

By Associated Press Reporters

North Korea has fired at least one unidentified projectile from the country’s western area, South Korea’s military has said.

It would be the second such launch in the last five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks could be in danger.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff had no other immediate details, and it was not clear what the North had fired, but some analysts have said that if the North returns to the kind of longer-range banned weapons that it tested in 2017, when many feared a Washington-Pyongyang stand-off could end in war, it will be a strong sign that a frustrated North Korea is turning away from diplomacy.

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TV footage of missiles showing at Seoul Railway Station (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

A summit earlier this year between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended in failure.

North Korea wants widespread sanctions relief in return for disarmament steps that the US has apparently seen as insufficient.

Longer-range ballistic missile tests, banned by the UN and seen as threatening by surrounding countries, would be likely to result in more sanctions.

The launch came hours after the North through its state media described its firing of rocket artillery and an apparent short-range ballistic missile on Saturday as a regular and defensive military exercise, and ridiculed South Korea for criticising the launches.

The projectile was launched from the Sino-ri area of North Pyongan Province, an area known to host one of North Korea’s oldest missile bases where a brigade operates mid-range Rodong missiles.

The launch comes as the US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visits South Korea.

South Korea’s presidential national security director, Chung Eui-yong, has been monitoring the situation while communicating with the defence ministry.

Press Association

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