- North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, provided little technical information about weapons.
- In overseeing the launch, Kim Jong-un said the new missiles had to be developed to counteract the weapons being bought by South Korea.
- According to South Korean army estimates, the two short-range missiles traveled between 450 and 700 kilometers before falling into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The North Korean government said Friday the missiles launched yesterday are new tactical weapons designed to send a “solemn warning” to South Korea to stop importing armaments and conducting joint military exercises with the United States. The launch of two short-range missiles on Thursday was the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump met last month in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.
At this third meeting, the two leaders agreed to resume discussions on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but Pyongyang has threatened to break the promise in protest against the joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States scheduled for next month. North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, provided little technical information about weapons, describing them only as “a new type of guided tactical weapon” and “an ultra-modern weapon system.”
The tests are “a serious warning to South Korean soldiers, who have not yet abandoned the prediction of joint exercises despite repeated warnings [from Pyongyang],” the KCNA said. According to military sources in South Korea, on Thursday shooting data show similarities with Iskander, a Russian-made short-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. A North Korean version could reach any point in South Korea and be difficult to intercept. In overseeing the launch, Kim Jong-un said the new missiles had to be developed to counteract the weapons being bought by South Korea.
North Korea had previously warned that Seoul’s acquisition of US F-35 fighters – the first of which arrived in March – would force its neighbor to develop and test “special weapons” to destroy aircraft. According to the KCNA, Kim said the new missiles can fly at low altitudes, which makes their interception difficult. The North Korean leader also warned Seoul against the temptation to “ignore the implied warning” which these new weapons represent.
According to South Korean army estimates, the two short-range missiles traveled between 450 and 700 kilometers before falling into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The Japanese defense minister called it an “extremely unfortunate” shooting, while the South Korean National Security Ministry said they are “deeply concerned.”
The United States has called for an end to the provocations. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed Thursday’s releases and said in an interview with Bloomberg TV, talks with North Korea should begin “in a few weeks.” Although Pyongyang spoke harshly to South Korea, the statement was removed from the types of belligerent attacks on the United States that marked earlier announcements, a possible sign that North Korean regime is still keen to keep the diplomacy alive.
Nearly 30,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea, and annual exercises with tens of thousands of South Korean troops generate irritation in Pyongyang, which they consider to be a test for their invasion.