This May 9, 2019 picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 10, 2019 shows rocket launchers firing during the strike drill of defence units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in the forefront area and on the western front of North Korea.
AFP/KCNA via KNS
North Korea says weapons test involved 'long-range' capability
Sunghee Hwang, Kang Jin-kyu (Agence France-Presse) - May 10, 2019 - 9:14am

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday it had tested a long-range weapon, a claim that was likely to raise tensions on the peninsula and contradicted accounts from the South and in the US that Pyongyang had fired short-range missiles.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un had overseen Thursday's weapons test, the second in less than a week amid tensions with the US over their fitful drive to reach an agreement under which North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.

"At the command post, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un learned about a plan of the strike drill of various long-range strike means and gave an order of start of the drill," KCNA said, adding that the drill was successful.

KCNA did not say what kind of weapon was fired. It avoided using the words missile, rocket or projectile.

The update came amid increasingly strained ties with the US as President Donald Trump said Thursday he thought Kim was not ready to negotiate denuclearisation.

In New York, federal authorities said a North Korean freighter had been seized on grounds of violating UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

The officials said Wise Honest -- an 18,000-ton, single hull bulk carrier -- had exported high-grade coal and brought back machinery to the impoverished and reclusive country.

During an event at the White House, Trump said US authorities were looking at the latest projectile launches "very seriously."

"They were smaller missiles, short range missiles. Nobody's happy about it," Trump told reporters.

"The relationship continues. But we'll see what happens. I know they want to negotiate, they're talking about negotiating. But I don't think they are ready to negotiate."

Two Trump-Kim summits, the most recent in Vietnam in February, have produced no tangible progress toward persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Thursday's missile firing came after North Korea carried out a military drill and fired multiple projectiles on Saturday, with at least one believed to be a short-range missile.

'An element of protest'

The North had not previously fired a missile since November 2017, shortly before a rapid diplomatic thaw eased high tensions on the peninsula and paved the way for a historic first meeting between Kim and Trump.

But the summit in Vietnam broke up without an agreement rolling back Pyongyang's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief or even a joint statement, leaving the North frustrated.

Thursday's launch came hours after the US Special Representative on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, arrived in Seoul for talks with South Korean officials, in his first visit since the Hanoi summit.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Pyongyang's latest move had "an element of protest and is a pressuring action to steer the nuclear talks in a direction it desires".  

"It appears the North is highly displeased that the Hanoi summit ended without agreement," he said in an interview marking his first two years in office. 

But he added: "Whatever North Korea's intentions might have been, we warn that it could make negotiations more difficult."

The North "fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles" from Kusong in North Pyongan province, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement, updating its earlier assessment that the launch was from Sino-ri in the same province. 

The JCS added the missiles flew eastwards for 270 and 420 kilometres (170 and 260 miles) and the South Korean and US militaries were jointly analysing them.

Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington had all refrained from explicitly calling Saturday's launch a missile -- the South used the term "projectile" -- which could jeopardise the ongoing diplomacy if it violated UN Security Council resolutions against ballistic technology as well as Kim's announcement of an end to long-range missile tests.

Experts said at least one short-range ballistic missile was involved on Saturday, with a report on the respected 38 North website saying debris left by the launch suggested it was a "direct import" of a Russian-produced Iskander.

If North Korea had imported Iskanders from Russia, the report added, "it has an existing capacity to deliver warheads to targets in South Korea with great precision".

A summit between Moon and Kim a year ago was instrumental in lowering the temperature, but since the Hanoi summit the North has blamed Seoul for siding with Washington, leaving inter-Korean relations in limbo.

NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR WEAPONS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 2, 2019 - 7:32am

South Korean officials were briefing the White House Thursday on the outcome of their pathfinding meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Seoul has already publicized that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests. The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

Top Trump administration officials were getting a chance to hear firsthand from South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation that went to Pyongyang. — Associated Press

October 2, 2019 - 7:32am

A North Korean projectile appears to have breached Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, Tokyo says.

North Korea on Wednesday fires "projectiles" toward the sea, South Korea's military earlier said, a day after Pyongyang signalled a resumption of nuclear talks with the US.

"North Korea fired unidentified projectiles from Wonsan ... towards the East Sea (Sea of Japan) this morning," the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said without providing further details.

"Our military is monitoring the situation for additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said in a statement.

The launch came a day after the North's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said that Pyongyang had agreed to hold working-level talks with Washington later this week. -- Agence France-Presse

August 11, 2019 - 1:12pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a "new weapon" test, state media reports, the latest in a series of launches that US President Donald Trump has played down as Washington seeks to restart nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

The report carried by the Korean Central News Agency followed Trump's comments that Kim had expressed a willingness to meet once the US-South Korean exercises are over and apologized for the slew of missile tests.

Saturday's launch was the North's fifth test in two weeks as it protests the annual military drills under way between Seoul and Washington which always infuriates Pyongyang. Defense officials in Seoul said Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, flying 400 kilometers (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. — Agence France-Presse

August 2, 2019 - 8:02am

North Korea carried out its third missile test in eight days Friday, according to the South's military, but US President Donald Trump says he has "no problem" with the spate of launches by Pyongyang.

The nuclear-armed North is barred from ballistic missile tests under UN resolutions and its actions have drawn condemnation from European members of the Security Council but a comparatively sanguine response from Trump, who has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times, generating global headlines on each occasion.

"I have no problem, we'll see what happens but short range (missiles) are very standard," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a rally in Ohio. — Agence France-Presse

August 1, 2019 - 7:50am

South Korea's military said Wednesday that two ballistic missiles had been fired from the Wonsan area on North Korea's east coast.

Kim "repeatedly expressed satisfaction over the result of the test-fire," and "highly appreciated" the national defense science and munitions industry personnel who have "made another wonderful Korean-style multiple launch rocket system," KCNA said.

While there was little further detail on the weapons, the guided rockets "will play a main role in ground military operations," KCNA said.

The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions, but Wednesday's firings were the second such in less than a week, despite a meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump last month.

Pyongyang and Washington are engaged in a long-running diplomatic process over the North's nuclear and missile programmes that has seen three high-profile encounters between their leaders in the space of a year. — Agence France-Presse

May 9, 2019 - 6:54pm

Weapons fired by North Korea Thursday appeared to be two separate missiles, the South's military says, in what was Pyongyang's second launch in less than a week.

The North "fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles" from North Pyongan province, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, adding they flew 270 and 420 kilometers and the South Korean and US militaries were jointly analyzing them. -- Agence France-Presse

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