North Korea launches short-range projectiles, South says

May 4, 2019 - 12:47

North Korea fired several short-range projectiles off its east coast on Saturday, in a move likely to raise tensions as denuclearization talks with the United States remain stalled.

The North fired the projectiles between 9:06 a.m. and 9:27 a.m. from near Wonsan, a coastal town east of Pyongyang, the capital, the South Korean military said in a statement. They flew 70 to 200 kilometers before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the statement said.

An earlier statement from the military said the North had fired a single missile, but the later statement used the vaguer term “projectile.” The military has used that term in the past to describe North Korean missile launches when it was too soon to determine exactly what kind of missile had been deployed.

“We are aware of North Korea’s actions tonight,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Friday night in Washington. “We will continue to monitor as necessary.” A Pentagon spokesman, Chris Sherwood, said officials there were looking into the launch and were not yet able to confirm anything.

A missile test would be the North’s first since 2017. In mid-April, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a test of what the country called a new type of “tactical guided weapon.” That, along with Saturday’s test, signaled that Mr. Kim intended to escalate tensions in an attempt to gain leverage with the United States.

Mike Pompeo, the American secretary of state, spoke by telephone after the launch with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan. Kang Kyung-wha, the South Korean minister, and Mr. Pompeo agreed to respond “with caution,” her ministry said.

In February, Mr. Kim met for the second time with President Trump, hoping to win relief from sanctions in return for a partial dismantlement of his country’s nuclear weapons facilities. But that meeting, in Hanoi, Vietnam, collapsed after Mr. Trump refused to lift sanctions until North Korea relinquished all its nuclear weapons.

North Korea has since vowed not to buckle under international pressure even if its people have to survive on “water and air only,” state media said, and it has repeatedly said it would find “a new way” to defend its national interests if Washington did not ease sanctions. Analysts have speculated that the North might resume weapons tests.

(Source: The New York Times)

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