WATCH | North Korea fires short-range missiles in latest provocation

2019-07-25 10:41

North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday, complicating efforts to resume stalled nuclear talks with Washington and signalling its anger over planned US-South Korea joint military exercises.

It was the North's first missile test since an impromptu meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month that produced an agreement to resume a working-level denuclearisation dialogue.

READ | North Korea tells South to stop mediating between North, US

But those talks have yet to begin, and Pyongyang warned recently they could be derailed by Washington and Seoul's refusal to scrap military exercises scheduled for August.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the two missiles were launched just after dawn from Wonsan on the east coast and flew more than 430km before falling into the sea.

"Our military is closely monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," it said.

'Regrettable

"We urge the North to stop actions that do not help ease military tensions," said Choi Hyun-soo, a defence ministry spokesperson for South Korea.

Japan's defence minister called the launches "extremely regrettable" but stressed that the missiles had fallen short of his country's exclusive economic zone.

Pyongyang carried out similar short-range launches in May, which Trump dismissed at the time as "very standard stuff" that would have no impact on his relationship with Kim.

The two leaders went on to hold an unscheduled meeting June 30 in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to pick up a nuclear dialogue that stalled after the collapse of a formal summit in Hanoi in February.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the working-level disarmament talks would probably start in mid-July, but last week Pyongyang said they had been jeopardised by the scheduled joint military drills.

Condemning the planned exercises as "blatant pressure" and a "violation of the spirit" of the joint statement Trump and Kim signed at their first summit in Singapore last year, Pyongyang even hinted it could reconsider its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing.

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