SEOUL • North Korea fired two “unidentified projectiles” yesterday – the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States – Seoul said, as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked.
The projectiles were fired eastwards from South Hamgyong province and came down in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
They added that the launch, the latest in a series by Pyongyang, was carried out at 4.59pm local time – the early hours on the east coast of the US, during one of the country’s biggest annual holidays.
It was also one day short of the two-year anniversary of the North’s first test of its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say is capable of reaching the entire US mainland.
Pyongyang is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that yesterday’s launch was the latest in a series of violations.
“North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles are a serious defiance to not only our country but also the international community,” he said in Tokyo.
The launch came after Pyongyang fired what it called a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” system last month, and the JCS said the latest devices were presumed to be of a similar type. They flew 380km and reached a maximum altitude of 97km, the JCS added.
Nuclear negotiations between the US and the North have been at a standstill since the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un broke up in February. Pyongyang has since demanded that Washington change its approach by the end of the year.
“North Korea is growing anxious as its deadline approaches,” said Dr Shin Beom-chul of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
“That’s why it’s carrying out these provocations, which is the typical North Korean playbook to get more concessions from the US.”