N Korea: Missiles firing a warning to Seoul

N Korea: Missiles firing a warning to Seoul

SEOUL: North Korea has fired its “new tactical guided weapon” under its supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s guidance in a demonstration of power, Yonhap news agency reported, quoting North Korean official media report today, a day after the communist state launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

The firings were aimed at sending a “solemn warning” to “South Korean military warmongers” who are deploying “ultramodern offensive weapons into South Korea” and pushing to “hold (a) military exercise in defiance of the repeated warnings” from the North, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

“(Kim) emphasised that we cannot but develop nonstop super powerful weapon systems to remove the potential and direct threats to the security of our country that exist in the South,” it said in English.

Yesterday, North Korea launched two missiles from Hodo Peninsula near the North’s eastern coastal town of Wonsan, which flew 430 kilometres and 690 km, respectively.

The firing of the projectiles, which South Korea described as “a new kind of short-range ballistic missile,” came less than a month after Kim held a surprise meeting with US President Donald Trump at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom and agreed to resume their working-level nuclear talks.

After watching the launches, Kim expressed satisfaction over “the rapid anti-firepower capability of the tactical guided weapon system and the specific features of the low-altitude gliding and leaping flight orbit” of the missile, which would be hard to intercept, it said.

“It must have given uneasiness and agony to some targeted forces enough as it intended,” the KCNA said.

The report did not directly criticise the US or Trump in an apparent effort to keep the dialogue mood alive but could have been meant to send a message to Washington as well.

Calling Seoul’s introduction of new weapons and military exercises a “suicidal act,” the North Korean leader urged South Korean President Moon Jae In to “come back to the proper stand as in April and September last year” when they held summits.

The KCNA did not elaborate, but the report was apparently referring to the joint military exercise between South Korea and the US slated for next month, and Seoul’s plan to purchase stealth fighter jets from the US for deployment through 2021.

North Korea has slammed South Korea for the purchase plan, claiming it is intended to invade Pyongyang and constitutes a violation of the inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions.

“The South Korean chief executive should not make a mistake of ignoring the warning from Pyongyang, however offending it may be,” it said, without directly using Moon’s name.

The denuclearisation talks between Washington and Pyongyang were expected to resume in mid-July but have not taken place yet.

North Korea’s foreign ministry warned last week that the planned combined military drill between Seoul and Washington could affect the prospect of the resumption of the stalled nuclear talks, calling it a rehearsal for invasion.

Later yesterday, the presidential National Security Council (NSC) tentatively concluded that the missiles were “a new kind of short-range ballistic missile.”

Top security officials also expressed “strong concerns” over the North’s firing, saying it does not help efforts to ease military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul’s relatively rapid response to the North’s provocation Thursday marked a subtle shift from its previous cautious stance of refraining from directly describing the North’s projectile launches as ballistic missile tests banned under UN sanctions.

Yesterday, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus urged North Korea to stop provocations and return to talks, adding that “all parties” should abide by their obligation under UN Security Council resolutions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expects the working-level talks between the two countries to resume in “a couple of weeks,” downplaying the North’s latest missile launches as a negotiating tactic.


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