Published: Sat, May 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Donald Trump, Moon Jae-in Discuss North Korean Denuclearization: White House

Donald Trump, Moon Jae-in Discuss North Korean Denuclearization: White House

North Korea has launched two "short-range missiles," South Korea's military said it suspected on Thursday, adding yet another complication into Pyongyang's stalled negotiations with the United States and peace talks with South Korea.

Also, U.S. special envoy for the DPRK Stephen Biegun said Friday that the door remains open for the DPRK to return to nuclear negotiations, despite Pyongyang's firing of two missiles the previous day, according to Yonhap.

The two missiles on Thursday were fired from Kusong, an area northwestern of Pyongyang and flew 420km and 270km (168 miles) and reached an altitude of about 50km before hitting the sea, South Korea's military said.

North Korea's state media showed leader Kim Jong Un observing the firing of rocket artillery and what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile soaring from a launch vehicle.

As North Korea conducted another rocket launch after the discussions, Moon said, the government needs public consensus on the food aid issue.

The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The launches come six days after Kim supervised a military exercise in which he fired off several projectiles, including what non-proliferation experts believed was a short-range ballistic missile.

The tests come just months after a failed second summit in February in Hanoi between the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, and Donald Trump, the United States president. Experts think North Korea still needs more tests to make its ICBMs viable.

However, following Trump's walk-out from the bilateral summit in Hanoi in February, North Korea has made clear its angst with a series of actions.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Thursday that the United States would stick to diplomacy with the DPRK even after Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles.

The Justice Department said the 17,061-tonne Wise Honest is one of the North's largest cargo ships and it was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018 but is now in the possession of the United States. Following the collapse of the Trump-Kim meeting, North Korea demanded that South Korea proceed with joint economic projects that have been held back by USA -led sanctions against the North.

South Korea's presidential Blue House and Defense Ministry have raised concern that Saturday's launches went against the spirit of an inter-Korean military agreement reached past year to cease all hostile activities and urged North Korea to refrain from acts that could escalate tensions.

A spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, told KCNA on Wednesday that the recent drill is "nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of situation in the region".

North Korea last conducted a major missile test in November 2017 when it flight-tested the Hwasong-15 and demonstrated the potential capability to reach deep into the US mainland. This could be an effort to keep diplomacy alive as United Nations sanctions bar North Korea from engaging in any ballistic activity.

It was a "long-range strike" drill, the official Korean Central News Agency said, without specifying what kind of weapon was sacked and avoiding the words missile, rocket or projectile.

Under the UN Security Council resolutions, the DPRK is banned from testing any ballistic missile.

North Korea last conducted a major missile test in November 2017 when it flight-tested the Hwasong-15, which demonstrated the potential capability to reach deep into the USA mainland.

After being asked in early March about reports that North Korea was rebuilding its nuclear capabilities, Trump said he would be "very, very disappointed if that were happening" but that he thought it was "too early to see" exactly what the North Koreans were doing.

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