SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired a missile off its east coast on Wednesday that South Korea said may have been launched from a submarine, a day after it announced the resumption of talks with the United States aimed at ending its nuclear programme.
The launch was likely a reminder by the North of its weapons capability ahead of the talks with Washington, analysts said. North Korea rejects United Nations resolutions that ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology, saying they are an infringement of its right to self-defence. Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have been stalled since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal. South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of one missile that flew 450 km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910 km (565 miles). It was likely a Pukguksong-class weapon, as the North’s earlier submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) were known, that is under development. South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the Pukguksong has a range of about 1,300 km (910 miles) and that the apogee of the missile fired on Wednesday may have been raised to reduce the distance it travelled. South Korea’s military said the missile was launched eastward from the sea northeast of Wonsan, the site of one of North Korea’s military bases on the east coast. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch, saying it was a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The National Security Council in Seoul expressed “strong concern” over the launch of what it said may have been an SLBM that came just a day after the announcement of working-level nuclear talks, according to a statement issued by the presidential Blue House. North Korea had been developing SLBM technology before it suspended long-range missile and nuclear tests and began talks with the United States that led to the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore in June 2018. State news agency KCNA released photos and a story of leader Kim Jong Un in July inspecting a large, newly built submarine, seen as a potential signal that Pyongyang was continuing with its development of an SLBM programme. Hours before Wednesday’s launch, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said in a statement the talks would be held on Saturday in a development that could potentially break what had been months of stalemate. Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said: “While pursuing diplomacy, it is necessary to remain clear-eyed about North Korea’s continued provocations and lack of denuclearisation.” Trump has played down North Korea’s recent series of short-range launches, saying in September the United States and North Korea “didn’t have an agreement on short-range missiles” and that many countries test such weapons. Nick Bit: During Donald Trumps “friendship” with Kim you Num Chucks the N.Koreans have made amazing strides. Including a submarine program that can launch Nuclear “projectiles” i call them missiles. These are nothing short of astonishing accomplishments especially for such a small poor country. In fact its nothing short of brilliant! and should never allowed to happen. These HA HAHA “Trump projectiles” are a major game changer… Much like the drone swarm technology of Iran that rendered 150 billion of state of the art missile defense systems mute. These regimes have the ability to change the world power equation. You will not like it when China becomes the policeman of the world. After all Trump did create a job opening!