North Korea launched three missiles into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Saturday morning, reigniting tensions after a month of heated rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington and dispelling President Trump’s assertion that Kim Jong Un had come to “respect” him.
The missiles appeared to be short-range, not the intercontinental ones capable of reaching the mainland United States that North Korea fired last month, and at least one of them quickly failed.
Still, the latest launches underscore Kim’s continued focus on making strides in his weapons program and his continued defiance of international calls for him to desist.
Analysts said the launches appeared to be a response to the ongoing joint exercises between the United States and South Korean militaries, exercises that North Korea always strongly protests because it considers them preparation for an invasion.
Furthermore, South Korea fired three missiles of its own this week.
In this excerpt from a North Korean propaganda video, senior U.S. officials are seen engulfed in flames with President Trump looking over a cemetery with the warning: “The fate of the U.S., with its many crimes, ends here.” (The Washington Post)
“When they [North Korea] fire salvos of missiles, it’s usually because they’re training, so in a way, they’re doing their own exercises,” said Melissa Hanham of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California.
Kim had just supervised a special forces target-striking contest, practicing attacks on two South Korean islands, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported separately Saturday.
The North Korean People’s Army “should think of mercilessly wiping out the enemy with arms only and occupying Seoul at one go and the southern half of Korea,” Kim told his special forces, KCNA reported.
The first and third missiles flew 150 miles before falling into the sea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The second missile appears to have blown up almost immediately.
“We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted,” Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, said in a statement. The missiles did not pose a threat to the United States, he added.
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project and a freelance consultant passionate about tech, programming, games and entertainment.