North Korea fires projectiles, rejects South Korea's 'senseless' dialogue pledge

Sunday, 18 Aug, 2019

The North has protested joint military drills conducted by South Korea and the United States, which kicked off last week, calling them a "rehearsal for war".

North Korea again fired two projectiles into the East Sea on Friday, military authorities here said.

Meanwhile, South Korea's military said the North had launched two "unidentified projectiles" that landed in the waters off the peninsula's east coast after reaching an altitude of about 18 miles and flying a distance of about 142 miles.

South Korea's military officials said they were analyzing data they acquired through radar and other intelligence-gathering equipment to determine what type of projectiles had been launched.

Friday's launches were North Korea's sixth round of tests since late July, when it stepped up its weapons demonstrations while expressing frustration over stalemated nuclear negotiations with the United States as well as the U.S.

North Korea has lambasted South Korea for holding a joint military exercise with the USA, which started earlier this month, claiming it is a rehearsal for their invasion of the North.

In a speech marking Korea's liberation from Japanese rule, President Moon vowed to unite the Korean peninsula by 2045.

"They are basically asking for pretext for the North to come out and have inter-Korean talks and save its face", professor Yang Moo-jin at the University of North Korean Studies said. But they are violations of UN Security Council resoultions.

But Moon "had better drop that senseless lingering attachment", it said.

Trump has so far brushed aside concerns over Pyongyang's missile program from war hawks in the mainstream media. The North has tested the missile, a modified version of the Russian Iskander, several times over the past three months, despite being subject to United Nations sanctions that bar it from testing any ballistic missile technology.

Military analysts say North Korea may be taking advantage of USA tolerance as an opportunity to improve its ballistic-missile technology.

Moon, in a televised speech on Thursday, said a momentum for dialogue remains alive despite the series of "worrying actions taken by North Korea recently".

Pyongyang called South Korea's president "impudent" and added that inter-Korean talks were over.

North Korea has made several attempts at short-range ballistic missiles over the past month.

The launches have complicated attempts to restart talks between USA and North Korean negotiators over the future of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

"His speech deserves the comments "foolish commemorative speech", the North said in its statement. He said the United States wanted to see North Korea make a "clear strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons and its delivery systems", and then implement that decision.

North Korea resumed testing short-range ballistic missiles after the breakdown of the Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un at the end of February.