North Korea launches short-range missiles

Test perceived as warning shot to US, which has imposed strict sanctions on Pyongyang

Will Kirby,Adam Forrest
Saturday 04 May 2019 02:58
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The launch comes despite an international effort to encourage the nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the thawing of longstanding tensions with North Korea
The launch comes despite an international effort to encourage the nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the thawing of longstanding tensions with North Korea

North Korea has fired several short-range missiles from its east coast, South Korea’s military said, amid growing tensions with Washington following a failed nuclear summit in February.

South Korean and US authorities are analysing details of the missiles, which were fired towards the east from the Hodo peninsula at around 9am local time.

The missiles flew distances ranging from 70kms to 200 kms (44-124 miles), according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff.

The South Korean government said it was “very concerned” about the test launch and urged Pyongyang to resume nuclear negotiations.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has held telephone talks with the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers. In a terse statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “We are aware of North Korea’s actions tonight. We will continue to monitor as necessary.”

It marks the first major test since November 2017, when Pyongyang declared its nuclear force complete after firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) before raising hopes of a reduction in tensions by agreeing to talks with the South and the US.

Its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to no longer test nuclear weapons or ICBMs, but the North has conducted other weapons tests since then.

The missile firing, coming after the North’s test of what it called a tactical weapons system, added to the pressure it has exerted on Washington in talks on ending the North’s nuclear programme.

“It also seems clear that North Korea is angry over what appears to be a lack of flexibility in the Trump administration’s position on relieving sanctions, sticking to a policy of ‘maximum pressure’,” said Harry Kazianis at the Centre for the National Interest, a think-tank.

Kim has held two summit meetings with President Trump, the second in February in Vietnam, but the two failed to make progress on ending the North’s nuclear programme due to disagreement on weapons dismantlement and sanctions relief.

Additional reporting by agencies

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