North Korea offers talks, then launches projectiles

Reuters, SEOUL

Wed, Sep 11, 2019 - Page 1

North Korea yesterday morning fired two unidentified projectiles, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, hours after a senior diplomat announced that Pyongyang would be willing to resume negotiations with the US later this month.

The “short-range projectiles” were launched from around Kaechon in South Pyongan Province at about 7am toward the east and flew about 330km, it said in a statement.

The launches came after North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui on Monday said that Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” with the US at the end of this month at a time and place to be agreed.

The launch was the eighth by North Korea since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June at the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas.

Trump and Kim agreed then to restart working-level negotiations for denuclearization talks that have been stalled since an unsuccessful second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February.

“We are aware of reports of projectiles launched from North Korea,” a senior Trump administration official said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and consulting closely with our allies in the region.”

Another US official, on condition of anonymity, said that initial information indicated that North Korea had launched two projectiles that appeared to be short range.

North Korea has previously said that its development of new weapons is to counter military threats and offensive pressures against its own security.

However, analysts have said that the string of launches highlight how North Korea has been able to further develop its military capabilities in the absence of any concrete agreement with the US.

Many of the latest missiles launched by North Korea appear to be new types designed to evade interception by US, South Korean and Japanese missile-defense systems.