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North Korea fired missile as warning to ‘South Korean warmongers’

A photo released by KCNA news agency on March 12, 2013, shows North Korea leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Wolnae-do Defence Detachment on the western front line. (KCNA/Xinhua/Zuma Press/MCT)
July 26, 2019

North Korea said its most recent missile test was conducted as a warning to South Korea amid their plans to continue military drills with the U.S.

North Korea said in a statement on Friday that the missile tests were launched as a “solemn warning” to “South Korean military warmongers,” the Associated Press reported.

In the statement, Kim Jong Un remarked specifically that his country’s new weapons boast “low-altitude gliding and leaping flight orbit,” making them more difficult to intercept. He added that North Korea’s “state-of-the-art weaponry system” is of “huge eventful significance.”

South Korean and U.S. officials said one weapon launched by North Korea on Thursday resembles a short-range Russian Iskander missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It is a new type of weapon for the North.

A U.S. defense official told CNN that upon an initial assessment, at least one unidentified “projectile” was fired, but noted that the launch is similar to North Korea’s launch of two short-range missiles in May.

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North Korea “fired one unidentified projectile at 5:34 a.m. and the other at 5:57 a.m., from Wonsan areas into the East Sea, and they flew around 430 kilometers,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

The North Korean statement on Friday also said the test “must have given uneasiness and agony to some targeted forces enough as it intended.”

North Korea’s statement also accused South Korea of developing “ultramodern offensive weapons,” a remark likely referencing South Korea’s purchase and deployment of U.S. F-35 fighter jets.

South Korean and U.S. forces said in a joint statement that North Korea’s launches “were not a threat directed at (South Korea) or the U.S., and have no impact on our defense posture.”

The launch does not seem to have an impact on negotiations with the U.S. as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that denuclearization talks will likely begin “in a couple weeks.”

“Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side,” Pompeo said.

North Korea’s missile launches this summer are the first of their missile tests since 2017.

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On May 9, North Korea launched two short-range missiles from the Sino-ri missile base located in Kusong approximately 130 miles north of the South Korea border, with the first missile traveling 260 miles and the second 170 miles.

Less than a week prior, North Korea had launched a short-range missile, also from Wonsan, which flew toward the East Sea.

In April, North Korea also test-fired a “tactical guided weapon” into the East Sea.