Early Wednesday morning North Korea fired two short range ballistic missiles from its eastern coast. This is the second launch, following last week’s, which is the first time they have tested missiles since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met in June. North Korean State News said last weeks test were a “solemn warning to the south Korean military warmongers.”
The first missile was launched at 5:06 a.m., and the second at 5:27 a.m., from the Kalma area near the North's eastern port of Wonsan, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both missiles are estimated to have flown about 250 kilometers at an approximate altitude of 30 km, the JCS said, adding that the South Korean and U.S. militaries are analyzing more details. The missiles fired last week flew some 600 kilometers at an altitude of around 50 km and were identified as "KN-23," or the North's version of Russia's Iskander ballistic missile. “KN-23 missiles are designed to evade missile defense systems by being easier to hide, launch, and maneuver in flight,” experts told Reuters.
South Korean and U.S. forces have a joint exercise scheduled for August, which North Korea has denounced as a violation of the arrangement Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed to at their Singapore summit last year. “Their moves to introduce the ultramodern offensive weapons into South Korea and hold military exercise in defiance of the repeated warnings from the DPRK,” said the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
South Korea’s Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the missiles were identified as a different type from previous models. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters in Seoul, “North Korea’s actions do not help ease military tensions, nor do they help keep the momentum for talks that are underway.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed that there was no impact on Japan's security after the launch. “We will continue to closely cooperate with the United States and others,” Abe told reporters.
In response to questions about the status of North Korean negotiations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the traveling press while on his way to Bangkok for the ASEAN summit, “We think they’ll be started before too long. I’m very hopeful. Chairman Kim had said when the two leaders met at the DMZ that it could get started in a few weeks. It’s taken a little bit longer than that. There’s been a little bit of preliminary work to be done.” Talking directly about the missile launch Pompeo said, “lots of countries posture before they come to the table."
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho canceled his planned visit to the ASEAN forum but Pompeo said the Americans were still open to a meeting. Harry Kazianis, of Washington’s Center for the National Interest think tank, said the latest launches were a clear attempt by North Korea to put pressure on Washington. Other analysts have said North Korea will likely press more aggressively for U.S. concessions because of Trump’s apparent eagerness to uphold his engagement with Pyongyang as a foreign policy success ahead of his 2020 re-election bid.