North Korea has again fired projectiles into the sea, according to US and South Korean officials. The launch is North Korea’s fifth in just over two weeks.
Two projectiles were fired early Saturday local time, a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said. They were launched from the Hamhung area of North Korea and “the military is maintaining a readiness posture monitoring related trends in preparation for additional launches,” the statement said.
A US official confirmed North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles, and said that they appear to be similar to other recent launches.
The previous four rounds of launches by North Korea in recent days are believed to be short-range missile tests, which would violate of UN resolutions.
According to North Korean state-run news agency KCNA, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw that launch and said it was a warning to the US and South Korea over their joint military drills, which have long been a thorn in North Korea’s side.
Although it made no mention of the launches, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement voicing its displeasure with upcoming joint US-South Korean joint military exercises it called “aggressive.”
Pyongyang would be forced to “seek a new road” if Seoul and Washington were to continue to “sharpen a sword to do us harm,” it said.
“He’s not happy with the testing”
Donald Trump said Friday that he had received a “very beautiful” and “very positive” letter from Kim, and shrugged off the significance of North Korea’s missile tests.
“I say it again,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn. “There have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-ranged — no ballistic missile test. No long-range missiles.”
He has previously said that he has “no problem” with the launches.
Trump also said that Kim was not happy with US “testing,” later clarifying that he meant the joint US-South Korea military exercises. “He’s not happy with the testing,” Trump said. “It’s a very small testing that we did, but he wasn’t happy with the testing- he put that in the letter.”
“A rehearsal for war”
The US and South Korea regularly conduct joint military drills. More are planned this fall.
“This routine combined training demonstrates the United States’ commitment to the (Republic of Korea)-US alliance and defense of the Korean peninsula through activities that enhance combined readiness,” Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN in July, confirming the upcoming exercises.
North Korea has described the drills as a “rehearsal for war” and accused US President Donald Trump of breaking promises made when he met Kim Jong Un last year, in talks aimed at convincing him to denuclearize.
“With the US unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the US as well,” the statement said. “The suspension of joint military exercises is what President Trump, Commander-in-Chief of the US, personally committed to at the DPRK-US summit talks in Singapore under the eyes of the whole world.”