North Korea fires two 'unidentified projectiles' on Thanksgiving
This undated and undlocated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 29, 2019 shows the test-fire of a super-large multiple launch rocket system.
AFP/KCNA via KNS
North Korea fires two 'unidentified projectiles' on Thanksgiving
Sunghee Hwang (Agence France-Presse) - November 29, 2019 - 9:00am

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired two "unidentified projectiles" on Thursday -- the Thanksgiving holiday in the US -- Seoul said, as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked.

The projectiles were fired eastwards from South Hamgyong province and came down in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

They added that the launch, the latest in a series by Pyongyang, was carried out at 16:59 pm local time (0859 GMT) -- or the early hours on the east coast of the United States, during one of the country's biggest annual holidays.

It was also one day short of the two-year anniversary of the North's first test of its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say is capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

Pyongyang is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Thursday's launch was the latest in a series of violations.

"North Korea's repeated launches of ballistic missiles are a serious defiance to not only our country but also the international community," he told reporters in Tokyo.

In Washington, a State Department official said the US was monitoring the situation and consulting with allies in the region.

"We call on North Korea to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization," the official said.

Thursday's launch came after Pyongyang fired what it called a "super-large multiple rocket launcher" system last month, and the JCS said the latest devices were presumed to be of a similar type.

They flew 380 kilometres (236 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 97 kilometres, the JCS added.

Nuclear negotiations between the US and the North have been at a standstill since the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un broke up in February, and Pyongyang has since demanded Washington change its approach by the end of the year.

"North Korea is growing anxious as its deadline approaches," said Shin Beom-chul of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

"That's why it's carrying out these provocations, which is the typical North Korean playbook to get more concessions from the US."

Test moratorium

Last month Pyongyang also claimed to have tested a "new type" of submarine-launched ballistic missile -- a potential strategic game-changer.

Trump has played down the recent launches, repeatedly pointing to North Korea's moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him.

Trump and Kim adopted a vaguely-worded statement on the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" at their first summit in Singapore in June last year, but little progress has since been made.

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes and lifting some of them was a key demand of the North's in Hanoi.

In June, Trump and Kim agreed to restart working-level talks during a meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula and the two sides met in Sweden in October, only for Pyongyang to walk away.

Earlier this month, Seoul and Washington said they would postpone planned joint military exercises to ease diplomacy with the North, an announcement Pyongyang dismissed.

The North has long condemned the joint drills, which it calls preparations for invasion, and carried out multiple missile launches in the summer in protest as the allies carried out their annual exercises.

North Korea has issued a series of increasingly assertive comments in recent weeks as time runs down on its end-of-year deadline.

Trump hinted at the prospect of a fourth meeting with Kim in a tweet earlier this month, only to be rebuffed by the North, which said it had no interest in summits "that bring nothing to us".

NORTH KOREA SOUTH KOREA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 12, 2020 - 3:42pm

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

November 12, 2020 - 3:42pm

North Korea has accused the UN agency responsible for regulating atomic energy of being a puppet of hostile countries after a new report said the isolated nation's nuclear weapons stockpile was breaking international law.

Pyongyang has gradually built an atomic stockpile after abandoning the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and has tested several nuclear bombs in the years since.

Since Kim Jong Un took over from his father as the country's supreme leader, North Korea's military has made rapid strides in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, and has been subjected to increasingly strict international sanctions as a result.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors have not been allowed into the country for more than a decade, said Wednesday that Pyongyang's weapons programme was "deeply regrettable."

North Korea's nuclear activities "remain a cause for serious concern," said agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi in a report to the UN General Assembly. — AFP

June 16, 2020 - 4:04pm

North Korea blew up a liaison office with the South in the border city of Kaesong on Tuesday, Seoul's Unification ministry says, after days of increasingly virulent rhetoric from Pyongyang.

"North Korea blows up Kaesong Liaison Office at 14:49," the office of the spokesman for the ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, says in a one-line alert sent to reporters. — AFP

March 2, 2020 - 12:04pm

North Korea fires an unidentified projectile on Monday, the South's military says, weeks after Pyongyang declared its moratorium on long-range missile tests over.

The statement from the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff gave no further details. The North carried out a series of weapons tests late last year. — AFP

January 1, 2020 - 3:51pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared to skip his set-piece New Year speech Wednesday, with analysts suggesting the move may have been to avoid implicitly admitting mistakes in the last two years of diplomacy with the US.

Kim has been giving the annual speech since 2013, after he revived the tradition started by his grandfather -- North Korea's founding leader Kim Il Sung.

It has been a key moment in the North Korean political calendar, reviewing the past and setting out goals for the future, and printed in full in the Rodong Sinmun mouthpiece newspaper.

At first he wore a party uniform and stood at a lectern to address troops, but the format has evolved over time as Pyongyang modernises its messaging, and last year he sat in his office in a Western-style suit and tie.

But this year there was no January 1 morning broadcast -- as has been standard recently -- or even at noon, considered the latest likely time. -- AFP

January 1, 2020 - 12:08pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared an end to moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and threatened a demonstration of a "new strategic weapon" soon.

Analysts said the announcement, reported by state media on Wednesday, amounted to Kim putting a missile "to Donald Trump's head" -- but warned that escalation by Pyongyang would probably backfire.

Washington was swift to respond, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging Kim to "take a different course" and stressing that the US wanted "peace not confrontation" with the North, while Trump played down the development.

Pyongyang has previously fired missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland, and has carried out six nuclear tests, the last of them 16 times the size of the Hiroshima blast, according to the highest estimates. -- AFP

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