North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a warning to the United States and South Korea by conducting four missile tests over the past two weeks.
Kim said on Wednesday the latest missile test was “an occasion to send an adequate warning to the joint military drill now underway by the U.S. and South Korean authorities,” according to Reuters, citing the North Korean state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Pyongyang said Wednesday that the “new-type tactical guided missiles” launched from the western part of North Korea and “precisely hit the targeted islet” off the country’s east coast, Reuters noted.
KCNA reported that the event “clearly verified the reliability, security and actual war capacity” of the weapon, according to the news service.
The U.S. and South Korean militaries began formal military exercises this week, provoking the response from the hostile nation.
North Korean leaders decry such activities as a preparation for war, saying the intention is to topple its leadership.
North Korea said on Aug. 1 that it conducted tests of a “newly developed” missile system under the supervision on Kim.
The system, as described by KCNA, is a “large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system,” NPR reported, which could possibly hit nearby targets such as South Korea and U.S. military bases in the region.
The KCNA report didn’t mention the U.S. or South Korea, but experts believe North Korea’s recent missile tests could pose a threat to South Korea’s defense, according to the Associated Press.
Kim expressed his satisfaction over the tests they conducted and the newly developed rocket system would serve a “main role” in his military. Kim added that it would create an “inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon.”
North Korea also fired two unknown missiles off the east coast last week.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea multiple unidentified projectiles from Wonsan areas into the East Sea. They reportedly flew around 430 kilometers, according to Yonhap on July 24.
These developments have further stalled denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Previous attempts have also been unsuccessful at sealing a deal.
The two countries had been in denuclearization talks earlier this year, but those talks stalled after a failed February summit between Kim and President Trump in Vietnam, The Hill reported.
Lee Sang-min, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry that handles inter-Korean ties, said that North Korea should end the missile tests in order for peace talks to continue with confidence, according to Reuters.
The U.S. made an effort for diplomacy to continue by reducing and refocusing the joint-military exercises, Leif-Eric Easley, who teaches international security at Ewha University in Seoul, told Reuters.
“But Pyongyang shows no appreciation for this, keeping its own exercise schedule unchanged, conducting provocative weapons tests, and dialling up its rhetoric,” he said.