Jung Yeon-je / AFP / Getty Images
North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, the first test of its kind since a high-profile meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Official North Korean media described Thursday's test as "projectile", but Western experts quickly discovered that the range, about 270 miles, and the trajectory of at least one of the missiles strongly suggested that it was a CN -23 SRBM, which was previously tested in May, a month before Trump, and Kim met in the demilitarized zone that separated the two Koreas.
An unnamed South Korean defense official, however, was quoted by Reuters as saying that one of the new-design missiles appeared to be at greater range, flying about 430 miles.
Pyongyang's move is seen as a tactic to pressure the US as they seek to re-launch nuclear negotiations with Korea. Nevertheless, it is considered less provocative than the tests conducted in 2017 by the North Korean ICBMs that can reach the US.
It follows National Security Advisor John Bolton, a North Korean hardliner who met with South Korea Korean officials in Seoul are discussing strengthening the alliance between the United States and South Korea.
It follows also a warning from North Korea less than a week ago that planned exercises between the US and South Korea could jeopardize further denuclearization talks.
Following a historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore last June, the president boasted that he had persuaded North Korea to denuclearize. However, a follow-up summit in Hanoi earlier this year quickly broke up and the North Korean regime has shown few signs of taking concrete steps to end its nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
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The White House did not respond immediately to the news, but South Korea's defense ministry spokesman Choi Hyun-soo called the test "not helpful" to reduce the tensions between the Koreas. Japanese Defense Secretary Takeshi Iwaya told reporters in Tokyo, "If they are ballistic missiles, they violate United Nations sanctions, and I find that very unfortunate." The rockets had been fired from mobile platforms at a location near Wonsan on the North Korean coast.
North Korea also worked on U-boat-fired ballistic missiles, a newly-built submarine. Although no details were released, Kim expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the submarine was designed and built to fully implement North Korea's military strategic intent.