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North Korea Fires Short-Range Missiles Into the Sea

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Thursday launched two short-range missiles into the sea, expressing anger at joint US-South Korean joint military exercises, TRT reported Thursday.
It was the first missile test in the North since an impromptu meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month, which resulted in an agreement to resume dialogue on denuclearization.
But these talks have not started yet and Pyongyang recently warned that they may be disappointed by Washington and Seoul’s refusal to abolish the military exercises scheduled for next month.
South Korea’s joint chief of staff said the two missiles were launched just after the dawn of Wonsan on the east coast, and flew more than 430 km before falling into the sea.
“Our military is closely monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintenance of readiness,” he said.
“We urge the North to put an end to actions that do not contribute to easing military tensions,” said Choi Hyun-soo, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense for South Korea.
The Japanese Defense Minister described the launches as “extremely regrettable”, while stressing that the missiles had not reached the exclusive economic zone of his country.
Pyongyang made similar short-term launches in May, which Trump called “very classic stuff” that would have no impact on his relationship with Kim.
The two leaders then held an unplanned meeting on June 30 in the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to embark on a nuclear dialogue that was blocked after the fall of an official summit in Hanoi in February.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said operational-level disarmament talks would probably start in mid-July, but last week Pyongyang said they had been compromised by planned joint military exercises.
Condemning the planned exercises to a “blatant pressure” and a “violation of the spirit” of the joint declaration that Trump and Kim signed at their first summit in Singapore last year, Pyongyang even hinted that he could reconsider its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing.
Thursday’s launches took place one day after Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with senior South Korean officials in Seoul.
Bolton’s bellicose stance on Pyongyang has regularly been denigrated by state media in the North.
The latest missile tests constituted a “strong message” that should be considered “part of Pyongyang’s protest” against the joint exercises, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute.
Nearly 30,000 US soldiers are stationed in the south and their annual maneuvers with tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers have always exasperated the north, which sees them as provocative invasions of invasion.
Other analysts have said that opposition to military exercises is just a pretext for Pyongyang to pursue its ambitions in weapons.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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