- Its low height suggests that it is another military trial without offensive purposes.
- Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said that if the threatening provocations continue North Korea will be considered an "enemy nation."
- Trump insisted that these were "small" missiles, while Pompeo interpreted it as an attempt to reaffirm positions before the resumption of negotiations between the two countries.
Kim Jong-un doubled down and conducted his second missile launch in less than a week. The first missile was detected at 5.06, followed by another at 5.27. The two were shot from a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle at a point near Wonsan port, on the east coast of the peninsula, the same area where last week’s missiles were fired. The projectiles were similar to those of the last week, according to a General Staff statement, which added that “the successive launches by North Korea do not lead to reduce tensions and we urge you to stop them.”
It is estimated that both missiles traveled a distance of 250 kilometers at an approximate height of 30 km. Its low height suggests that it is another military trial without offensive purposes, although South Korean security forces have claimed to continue studying the situation, while they point out that UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from launching ballistic missiles.
The South Korean National Security Council (NSC) has met at Cheong Wan Dae (Blue House), the head of state official residence. After the meeting, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said that if the threatening provocations continue North Korea will be considered an “enemy nation.” These are the strongest statements since Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un starred in a parallel approach to nuclear negotiation with the United States.
The launches have also been confirmed by the US military forces on the ground. Colonel Lee Peters, a spokesman for the US army on the peninsula, said he was “aware of the shooting by North Korea” and “monitoring the event.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, has certified at a press conference that the missiles have not compromised the security of their country and that they are already working with their allies.
Barely a week has passed since the last North Korean test. On July 25 the regime launched two missiles for the first time since Kim Jong-un’s personal interview with Donald Trump in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. In their conversation, both leaders agreed to resume negotiations for nuclear disarmament, but there has been no progress since then.
In a text published by the public agency KMZ the day after the launch, it was announced that Kim Jong-un had “personally directed and organized” the launch of “a new type tactical remote control weapon… [a] severe warning” to Korea from the south. The North Korean regime was reacting to the joint military maneuvers of the United States and South Korea, called 19-2 Dong Maeng, scheduled for next month. Apparently, his anger is because in June Trump assured Kim that this operation would be canceled, although US representatives have not confirmed this. The second reason was the purchase of two F-35th fighters by Seoul, military aircraft that would be able to move without being detected by their defensive radar.
The missile altitude, distance and height suggests that it is a new version of the KN-23, a North Korean version of Russian Iskander ballistic missiles. Although this model can carry nuclear warheads, both Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, downplayed the matter. Trump insisted that these were “small” missiles, while Pompeo interpreted it as an attempt to reaffirm positions before the resumption of negotiations between the two countries, which could occur “in a couple of weeks.”
The positions of both parties show what the first step should be. While Pyongyang wants Trump to revoke all nuclear sanctions before surrendering his nuclear arsenal, Washington intends to move forward by reversing the order. Trump will, however, bet on continuing the talks as long as North Korea does not cross its only red line: experiment with nuclear weapons or intercontinental missiles, which have been able to reach the west coast of the United States for two years.