Nuclear: North Korea Warns Trump Of Retaliatory Attack

Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / KCNA VIA KNS

 

North Korea on Wednesday warned that if the United States used military force against Pyongyang it would take “prompt corresponding actions at any level”, in response to comments by US President Donald Trump. 

Denuclearisation negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been deadlocked since a summit in Hanoi broke up in February, and the renewed threats come as a deadline set by Pyongyang for fresh concessions approaches.

Trump on Tuesday indicated that military action was still possible when he was asked about North Korea on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Britain on Tuesday.

“He definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him ‘Rocket Man’,” Trump said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“We have the most powerful military we’ve ever had, and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it,” Trump added.

Responding on Wednesday Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said he was “greatly disappointed” by Trump’s comments, the official KCNA news agency said.

He added that “the use of armed forces is not the privilege of the US only”.

“If the US uses any armed forces against the DPRK, we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level,” he added, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

North Korea has demanded the US offer it fresh concessions by the end of the year — ahead of Kim’s New Year speech on January 1, a key political set-piece in the isolated country.

Pyongyang has also issued a series of increasingly assertive comments in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, KCNA quoted Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song as saying: “What gift the US receives for Christmas depends entirely on the US’ decision.”

AFP

North Korea Fires Two ‘Unidentified Projectiles’ On Thanksgiving

South Korean Army Major General Jeon Dong-jin of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) speaks during a press briefing on North Korea’s projectiles, at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 28, 2019. North Korea fired two “unidentified projectiles” on November 28 — the Thanksgiving holiday in the US — Seoul said, as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked.
STR / YONHAP / AFP

 

North Korea fired two “unidentified projectiles” on Thursday — the Thanksgiving holiday in the US — Seoul said, as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked.

The projectiles were fired eastwards from South Hamgyong province and came down in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

They added that the launch, the latest in a series by Pyongyang, was carried out at 16:59 pm local time (0859 GMT) — or the early hours on the east coast of the United States, during one of the country’s biggest annual holidays.

It was also one day short of the two-year anniversary of the North’s first test of its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say is capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

Pyongyang is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Thursday’s launch was the latest in a series of violations.

“North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles are a serious defiance to not only our country but also the international community,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

In Washington, a State Department official said the US was monitoring the situation and consulting with allies in the region.

“We call on North Korea to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization,” the official said.

Thursday’s launch came after Pyongyang fired what it called a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” system last month, and the JCS said the latest devices were presumed to be of a similar type.

They flew 380 kilometres (236 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 97 kilometres, the JCS added.

Nuclear negotiations between the US and the North have been at a standstill since the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un broke up in February, and Pyongyang has since demanded Washington change its approach by the end of the year.

“North Korea is growing anxious as its deadline approaches,” said Shin Beom-chul of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

“That’s why it’s carrying out these provocations, which is the typical North Korean playbook to get more concessions from the US.”

Test Moratorium

Last month Pyongyang also claimed to have tested a “new type” of submarine-launched ballistic missile — a potential strategic game-changer.

Trump has played down the recent launches, repeatedly pointing to North Korea’s moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him.

Trump and Kim adopted a vaguely-worded statement on the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” at their first summit in Singapore in June last year, but little progress has since been made.

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes and lifting some of them was a key demand of the North’s in Hanoi.

In June, Trump and Kim agreed to restart working-level talks during a meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula and the two sides met in Sweden in October, only for Pyongyang to walk away.

Earlier this month, Seoul and Washington said they would postpone planned joint military exercises to ease diplomacy with the North, an announcement Pyongyang dismissed.

The North has long condemned the joint drills, which it calls preparations for invasion, and carried out multiple missile launches in the summer in protest as the allies carried out their annual exercises.

North Korea has issued a series of increasingly assertive comments in recent weeks as time runs down on its end-of-year deadline.

Trump hinted at the prospect of a fourth meeting with Kim in a tweet earlier this month, only to be rebuffed by the North, which said it had no interest in summits “that bring nothing to us”.

North Korea Fires Unidentified Projectile, Says South Korea Military

This picture taken on July 25, 2019 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 26 shows a new-type of tactical guided short-range missile being launched at an undisclosed location in North Korea. PHOTO: KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea fired an “unidentified projectile” on Thursday — the Thanksgiving holiday in the US — Seoul said, as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked.

The one-line announcement from the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately provide further details and came shortly after 3:00 am (0800 GMT) in Washington, DC on one of the US’ biggest annual holidays.

Thursday’s launch was the latest in a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, which fired what it called two “super-large multiple rocket launcher” systems last month.

Japan’s Jiji Press quoted sources from the defence ministry in Tokyo saying two projectiles were launched from the North’s east coast, adding they appeared to be ballistic missiles — which Pyongyang is banned from firing under UN Security Council resolutions.

US President Donald Trump has played down the recent launches, repeatedly pointing to North Korea’s moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as foreign policy successes for him.

But negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February collapsed without a deal.

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes and lifting some of them was a key demand at the Hanoi summit.

Earlier this month, Seoul and Washington said they would postpone planned joint military exercises to ease diplomacy with the North, an announcement Pyongyang dismissed.

North Korea has issued a series of increasingly assertive comments in recent weeks as its end-of-year deadline for the US to come up with a fresh offer approaches.

Trump hinted at the prospect of a fourth meeting with Kim in a tweet earlier this month, only to be rebuffed by the North, which said it had no interest in summits “that bring nothing to us.”

AFP

North Korea ‘No Longer Interested’ In US Summits After Trump Tweets

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 15, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Yangdok hot spring resort under construction in South Pyongan Province. KCNA / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP
This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 15, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Yangdok hot spring resort under construction in South Pyongan Province. KCNA / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea is “no longer interested” in summits with the US unless Washington offers new concessions in their nuclear negotiations, Pyongyang said Monday, hours after Donald Trump hinted at the prospect.

“You should act quickly, get the deal done,” Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “See you soon!”

Kim and Trump have met three times since June last year, but talks have been gridlocked since their Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October’s working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.

Pyongyang has set Washington a deadline of the end of the year to come forward with a fresh offer, and foreign ministry advisor Kim Kye Gwan said the US was stalling while “pretending it has made progress”.

He interpreted Trump’s tweet as a signal for a new summit, he said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA, but declared: “We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us.”

“We will no longer gift the US president with something he can boast of,” he went on, adding the North should be compensated for the “successes” that President Trump touted as his own achievements.

The implied criticism of Trump by name is a departure for Pyongyang, which has long limited its frustration to other administration officials.

Last month, adviser Kim declared: “Contrary to the political judgment and intention of President Trump, Washington political circles and DPRK policy makers of the US administration are hostile to the DPRK for no reason,” using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

In September he was fulsome in his praise for the US leader, saying that Trump was “different from his predecessors” and that he placed his hopes in “President Trump’s wise option and bold decision”.

But as the North’s deadline approaches it has issued a series of increasingly assertive statements — while also carrying out a number of weapons launches.

Washington should withdraw its “hostile policy” if it wants dialogue to continue, Kim said Monday, without elaborating further.

Trump’s tweet came after Washington and Seoul agreed to postpone annual joint aerial exercises to create space for diplomacy with Pyongyang, which condemns such drills as preparations for invasion.

 

AFP

US, North Korea Resume Talks After Nuclear Test

People watch a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on October 2, 2019. Jung Yeon-je / AFP

 

North Korean and US officials on Saturday gathered for new nuclear talks in Stockholm after months of deadlock and Pyongyang’s defiant test of a sea-launched ballistic missile this week.

North Korea’s Kim Myong Gil and Stephen Biegun, the special envoy of US President Donald Trump, are part of the teams at the talks.

The two were to meet at a heavily guarded venue on an island off Stockholm, several hundred metres from the North Korean embassy, an AFP correspondent said.

The first cars with tinted windows started arriving just after 9:00 am (0700 GMT).

“I am encouraged that US and (North Korean) working level delegations are currently in Sweden to hold talks,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Lindh tweeted.

“Dialogue needed to reach denuclearization and peaceful solution.”

Similar-level talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament were held in Stockholm in March 2018 and then in January this year.

North Korea frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say, and many believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.

Pyongyang tested what it called a “super-large” rocket on Wednesday just hours after it said it was willing to resume working-level talks with Washington.

Kim Myong Gil said he was “optimistic” about the talks, speaking in Beijing on his way to the Swedish capital.

Washington has been eagerly awaiting a resumption of the dialogue, which has virtually stalled after a Hanoi meeting in late February between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea claimed to have entered a new phase in its defence capability with Wednesday’s test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile — the most provocative since Pyongyang began a dialogue with Washington in 2018.

The Pentagon said Thursday the missile seems to have been launched from a “sea-based platform” and not a submarine.

Trump has said he sees no problem with a string of short-range rocket tests conducted previously by North Korea, while insisting his personal ties with the North’s leader remain good.

‘New phase’ 

Photos carried by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a black and white missile emerging from the water and appearing to shoot into the sky.

The images also showed a small towing vessel next to the missile, which analysts said indicates the test was conducted from a submersible barge rather than an actual submarine, and that the system was in its early stages.

“The new-type ballistic missile was fired in vertical mode” in the waters off Wonsan Bay, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, identifying the weapon as a Pukguksong-3 and saying it “ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat.”

The United Nations Security Council meanwhile is expected to hold closed-door talks early next week on the latest test, diplomats said.

Those talks were requested by Britain, France and Germany, as the European powers push for the world body to keep up pressure on Pyongyang which is under heavy US and UN sanctions over its weapons program.

North Korea is banned from ballistic missile launches by Security Council resolutions.

It is also under three sets of UN sanctions adopted in 2017 in an effort to force it to give up its nuclear and ballistic weapons programmes. They limit North Korea’s oil imports and impose bans linked to its exports of coal, fish and textiles.

Since the US-North Korea talks began, Russia and China have been calling for the UN to start lifting sanctions so as to create momentum towards the North’s denuclearisation. But the United States has refused.

AFP

Security Council To Hold Talks Over North Korea Missile Test

UN Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York on the sidelines/ AFP

 

The UN Security Council is expected to hold-closed door talks on North Korea’s test of a sea-launched missile, as European powers push for the world body to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang, diplomats said Thursday.

North Korea claimed to have entered a new phase in its defense capability with the test Wednesday of a submarine-launched ballistic missile — the most provocative since Pyongyang began a dialogue with Washington in 2018.

The demand for closed-door talks was made by Britain, France and Germany, as the United States and North Korea prepare to resume nuclear talks this week. Initially slated for Friday, the talks are now expected to take place early next week due to scheduling constraints, diplomats said.

The European nations consider the test a violation of UN resolutions, and pressed the US delegation to have the council take it up, one diplomat said.

“The Americans do not want a formal meeting” so the Europeans asked for a closed-door session, said another diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump, who says he has a great relationship with Kim Jong Un, has shied from criticizing North Korea over its missile tests as the two sides seek an agreement for the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

“We are deeply concerned and we need to bring this back to the Security Council. This is another clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” the first diplomat said.

“This test is not neutral, and the Security Council should be able to discuss it,” the second one said.

In late August, Britain, France and Germany sought a meeting of the Security Council after North Korea tested a new “super large” multiple rocket launcher.

But in the end those three members of the council simply issued a statement calling for continued international sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korea is under three sets of UN sanctions adopted in 2017 in an effort to force it to give up its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

The sanctions limit North Korea’s oil imports and impose bans linked to its exports of coal, fish and textiles.

Since the US-North Korea talks began, Russia and China have been calling for the UN to start lifting sanctions so as to create momentum towards the North’s denuclearization. But the United States has refused.

North Korea Talks Going Ahead Despite Missile Test, Says Trump

 

 

US President Donald Trump on Thursday brushed off North Korea’s testing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, saying that planned talks with Pyongyang will go ahead anyway.

“They want to talk and we’ll be talking to them,” Trump told reporters at the White House in his first public reaction to North Korea’s announcement of what it called a “new phase” in its arsenal.

“We’ll see,” Trump added when asked if the missile test had gone too far for him.

The test was by far the most significant since Pyongyang first began a dialogue with Washington in 2018 overpressure to give up its nuclear weapons. Analysts said the new capability marks a significant step in boosting that program.

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Trump has said he has no problem with a string of short-range rocket tests conducted by North Korea, calling them “normal.”

But a proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.

“The new-type ballistic missile was fired in vertical mode” on Wednesday in the waters off Wonsan Bay, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, identifying the weapon as a Pukguksong-3.

“The successful new-type SLBM test-firing comes to be of great significance as it ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat,” it added.

The North’s leader Kim Jong Un sent “warm congratulations” to research units involved in the launch.

Kim has personally supervised recent land-based missile tests.

Photos carried by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a black and white missile emerging from the water and appearing to shoot into the sky.

The images also showed a small towing vessel next to the missile, which analysts said indicates the test was conducted from a submersible barge rather than an actual submarine, and that the system was in its early stages.

Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists called it Pyongyang’s longest-range-capable solid-fuel missile, adding Wednesday’s launch was “unambiguously the first nuclear-capable missile test since November 2017.”

“Kim Jong Un’s ‘rocket men’ kept busy during the diplomatic charm offensives of 2018-2019,” said Panda.

The North carried out a successful test of the solid-fuel Pukguksong-1, also known as KN-11, in August 2016, which flew around 300 miles (500 kilometers).

In July, North Korean state media had published pictures of Kim Jong Un inspecting a new type of submarine that also showed a poster of the Pukguksong-3 on a wall, fueling concerns that Pyongyang was pushing ahead with an SLBM program.

Tokyo said a part of Wednesday’s missile landed in waters within Japan’s exclusive economic zone — a 125-mile band around Japanese territory.

Washington voiced alarm, with a State Department spokesperson calling on Pyongyang “to refrain from provocations” and “remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations” aimed at bringing stability and denuclearization.

North Korea is banned from ballistic missile launches by United Nations Security Council resolutions.

– Working-level talks –
The launch came ahead of the planned resumption of working-level talks between Pyongyang and Washington which is slated for later this week in an undisclosed location.

North Korea frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say and may believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.

Pyongyang tested what it called a “super-large” rocket launcher last month just hours after the North said was willing to resume working-level talks with Washington.

Kim Dong-yub, a researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, noted Kim’s absence at Wednesday’s launch — a rarity as the North Korean leader has been present at all recent weapons tests.

“It’s likely not unrelated to the talks between Pyongyang and Washington currently underway,” he said, adding that Kim was trying to carry out weapons modernization without jeopardizing dialogue with the US.

Negotiations have been deadlocked since a second summit between Kim and Trump in February ended without a deal.

The two agreed to restart dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas in June, but those talks have yet to materialize.

Pyongyang also carried out several weapons tests since the meeting that have been downplayed by Trump, who dismissed them as “small” and insisted his personal ties with Kim remained good.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Ahead Of Nuclear Talks

People watch a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on October 2, 2019.  Jung Yeon-je / AFP

 

North Korea fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile, Seoul said Wednesday, just days before Washington and Pyongyang were set to resume long-stalled nuclear talks.

Pyongyang frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves, as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say, and may believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.

The United States voiced alarm, with a State Department spokesperson calling on North Korea “to refrain from provocations” and “remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations” aimed at bringing stability and denuclearisation.

A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected a ballistic missile early Wednesday fired in an easterly direction from the sea, northeast of the North Korean port of Wonsan.

The missile was “believed to be one of the Pukkuksong models”, the JCS said in a statement, referring to a line of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) under development by the North.

Launches like this “are not helpful to efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and we urge North Korea again to stop immediately,” it added.

The North carried out a successful test of the solid-fuel Pukkuksong-1, also known as KN-11, in August 2016 which flew around 500 kilometres.

In July, North Korean state media had published pictures of Kim Jong Un inspecting a new type of submarine, fuelling concerns that Pyongyang was pushing ahead with an SLBM programme.

Analysts say the missile is believed to have been fired at a lofted angle, adding it is likely an intermediate-range ballistic missile with an actual flight range of around 2,000 kilometres.

Vipin Narang, an associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, drew a line between a recent series of launches by Pyongyang and Wednesday’s test, calling it “an explicitly nuclear weapons system”.

A part of the missile landed in waters within Japan’s exclusive economic zone — a 200-kilometre band around Japanese territory — Tokyo said.

“The launching of ballistic missiles violates UN Security Council resolutions and we strongly protest and strongly condemn it,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions.

 ‘Negotiating position’ 

The launch came a day after the North’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang had agreed to hold working-level talks with Washington later this week.

The two sides will have “preliminary contact” on Friday and hold negotiations the following day, Choe said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus later confirmed the talks, which she said would happen “within the next week”.

“It seems North Korea wants to make its negotiating position quite clear before talks even begin,” Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest in Washington said after Wednesday’s launch.

“Pyongyang seems set to push Washington to back off from past demands of full denuclearisation for what are only promises of sanctions relief,” he added.

It is not the first time the North has followed up an offer of talks with a weapons test.

Pyongyang tested what it called a “super-large” rocket launcher last month just hours after Choe released a statement saying that the North was willing to resume working-level talks with Washington.

Negotiations between the two have been deadlocked since a second summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.

The two agreed to restart dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas in June, but the North’s anger at a US refusal to cancel joint military drills with South Korea put the process on hold.

Pyongyang also carried out several weapons tests since the meeting that have been downplayed by Trump, who dismissed them as “small” and insisted his personal ties with Kim remained good.

Relations thawed last month after Trump fired his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, who Pyongyang had repeatedly denounced as a warmonger.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, North Korea’s main ally, said that the United States needed to ease its pressure campaign on Pyongyang.

Speaking to reporters, Wang said that North Korea has “taken a series of positive measures” and that the United States should “meet halfway and make a positive response.”

US To Resume Nuclear Talks With North Korea

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and US President Donald Trump meet in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

The United States confirmed Tuesday that it will resume nuclear talks with North Korea in a matter of days.

“I can confirm that US and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

She said she had no further details on the meeting.

AFP

North Korea Fires ‘Short-Range Ballistic Missiles’

This picture taken on August 16, 2019 and released on August 17 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the test-firing of a new weapon, presumed to be a short-range ballistic missile, at an undisclosed location.  KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea Saturday fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles  into the sea after vowing to remain the biggest “threat” to the United States and branding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “toxin.”

It was the latest in a series of short-range missile tests the nuclear-armed nation has carried out in recent weeks in protest against US-South Korean military exercises, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion. The latest joint drill wrapped up on Tuesday.

“The military detected two unidentified projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in a statement Saturday after the latest launch.

The missiles flew about 380 kilometres (240 miles) and reached an altitude of 97 kilometres at a top speed of Mach 6.5 before landing in the East Sea, also known as Sea of Japan, it said.

“Our military is tracking the movement in the North in case of additional launches, with firm readiness,” it added.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House convened a National Security Council meeting and expressed “grave concerns” in a statement, pointing out Pyongyang had carried out the launch after the joint US-South Korea military drills had ended.

“NSC members agreed to continue diplomatic efforts with the international community to bring the North back to negotiation table with the US to achieve the goal of complete denuclearisation in the Korean peninsula.”

Tokyo also believed North Korea had fired “ballistic missiles” in violation of UN resolutions, Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.

“It can’t be overlooked no matter what the size and distance are,” he said.

Washington was monitoring the situation following reports of a missile launch, a senior US official said.

“We are consulting closely with our Japanese and South Korean allies.”

 ‘Biggest threat’ 

South Korea’s military said it would share intelligence on the launches with Japan despite Seoul saying earlier this week that it was terminating such exchanges amid a growing diplomatic and trade spat with its neighbour, which had raised concern it could weaken tracking of Pyongyang’s actions by the US allies.

Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit in Hanoi in February collapsed without an agreement over the extent of denuclearisation in the North and a sanctions relief.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to kick start working-level talks during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarised Zone on June 30 but no contacts have been held since with the North repeatedly expressing anger at the war games.

Earlier this week, Stephen Biegun, the US special envoy for North Korea, said during a visit to Seoul that Washington was “prepared to engage” as soon as it hears from Pyongyang.

But on Friday, the North vowed to “remain as the biggest ‘threat’ to the US” if Washington persisted with sanctions, in a statement by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Ri also launched a scathing attack on Pompeo, calling him a “diehard toxin” after the top US diplomat said Washington would continue to keep the “toughest” sanctions on the North until the reclusive state denuclearises.

AFP

North Korea Fires Projectiles, Rejects Dialogue With South

Replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile (R) and South Korea’s Nike missile (L) are displayed at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on August 16, 2019. Jung Yeon-je / AFP 

 

North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea on Friday and launched a scathing attack on “foolish” calls for dialogue from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, rejecting further peace talks with the South.

It was the sixth round of launches in recent weeks in protest at ongoing joint military drills between Seoul and the US. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has described the tests as a “solemn warning” to the South.

Pyongyang has routinely expressed anger at the war games, which it considers rehearsals for invasion, but in the past has avoided carrying out tests while the manoeuvres are taking place.

The South Korean military said the projectiles were fired from near the city of Tongchon, and flew some 230 kilometres (143 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, which is also known as the East Sea.

The latest test came as the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country said it rejected comments by Moon on Thursday outlining his desire for unification, and said it had nothing more to discuss with the South.

It called Moon — who has long favoured dialogue with the North — an “impudent guy rare to be found”, for hoping for a resumption of inter-Korean talks while continuing military drills with Washington.

In a speech on Thursday marking the anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 rule, Moon outlined a goal of “achieving peace and unification by 2045”, although his single five-year term presidency ends in 2022.

“His speech deserves the comments ‘foolish commemorative speech’,” the North said in its statement.

“We have nothing to talk any more with the south Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again,” it added.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the North’s comments are not “consistent” with the spirit of inter-Korean agreements, including the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Moon and Kim in April last year.

“We want to clearly point out that (the comments) won’t help the improvement of inter-Korean relations at all,” a ministry official added.

The joint US-South Korea drills have been held for years but were scaled down to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

But the North threatened last week to carry out more weapons tests following the start of the latest joint drills between Seoul and Washington, which began on Aug.5.

Moon has played down the North’s recent tests, even suggesting potential inter-Korean economic projects as a way to tackle the South’s ongoing trade row with Japan, prompting critics to accuse him of having a “peace fantasy”.

The exact type of projectiles fired Friday was still not clear but Seoul has described most of the previous launches as short-range ballistic missiles, while Pyongyang has said some were a “large-calibre multiple-launch guided rocket system”.

The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South was “monitoring the situation in case of additional launches while maintaining a readiness posture”.

The tests come as plans to resume working-level talks between the North and Washington appear to have stalled.

After a year of mutual threats and mounting tension, US President Donald Trump and Kim held a historic summit in Singapore last year, where both leaders signed a vague pledge to work towards “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

A second summit in Hanoi in February broke up amid disagreements over sanctions relief and concessions from the North.

The two leaders then agreed to resume nuclear talks during an impromptu June meeting in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula.

Pyongyang recently said nuclear talks will be “strictly” between the North and the US, refusing to hold separate dialogue with the South, having accused Seoul of posing as a “meddlesome mediator” following the collapse of the Hanoi summit.

South Korean authorities are “snooping about to fish in troubled waters in the future DPRK-US dialogue”, the North’s statement said Friday, “dreaming that the phase of dialogue would naturally arrive” once the joint Seoul-Washington military drills are over.

But Moon Jae-in “had better drop that senseless lingering attachment,” it said.

AFP

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Undermines International Peace Efforts – EU

(FILES) This early August 6, 2019 picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 7, 2019, shows the launch of an alleged new-type of tactical guided missiles from an undisclosed western part location of the country. KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

The European Union on Saturday condemned North Korea for the latest in a series of missile launches, saying the tests undermined international efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula.

Defence officials in Seoul said what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles were fired at daybreak from near the northeastern city of Hamhung, flying 400 kilometres (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea.

It was the fifth round of launches in two weeks, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un labelling them a “solemn warning” over the joint US-South Korean military drills.

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“With the launching of two short range ballistic missiles today, a fifth such test in recent weeks, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) continues to undermine international work for building trust and establishing lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons,” a spokesperson for the EU said in a statement.

“We expect the DPRK to refrain from any further provocations, abide by its stated commitments, and fully implement its international obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”

The statement urged Pyongyang to take “concrete and credible” steps towards abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and called for more talks.

AFP