Kim: Missile test was ‘adequate warning’
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire demonstration of newly-developed short-range ballistic missiles he said were intended to send an “adequate warning” to the United States and South Korea over their joint military exercises.
The announcement by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency today came a day after South Korea’s military said it detected the North firing two projectiles that were likely ballistic missiles into the sea.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff alerted reporters to the launches minutes before the North’s Foreign Ministry denounced Washington and Seoul over the start of their joint exercises on Monday. The ministry’s statement said the drills, which North Korea sees as an invasion rehearsal, leave the country “compelled to develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defense.”
North Korea’s fourth round of weapons launches in less than two weeks came amid a standstill in nuclear negotiations and after President Donald Trump repeatedly dismissed the significance of the country’s recent tests despite the threat the weapons pose to allies South Korea and Japan and to U.S. bases there.
Experts say Trump’s downplaying of the North’s weapons display has allowed the country more room to advance its military capabilities as it attempts to build leverage ahead of negotiations, which could possibly resume sometime after the end of the allies’ drills later this month.
KCNA said the launches on early Tuesday verified the reliability and combat ability of the newly-developed missiles. It said two missiles launched from a western airfield flew cross-country and over the area surrounding capital Pyongyang before accurately hitting an island target off its eastern coast.
The agency reported Kim expressed satisfaction and said the launches would “send an adequate warning to the joint military drill now underway by the U.S. and south Korean authorities.”
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles traveled about 279 miles on an apogee of 23 miles at a maximum speed of above Mach 6.9 before landing in waters off the country’s eastern coast.