North Korea fires projectiles off east coast, says South

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North Korea has fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast in the seventh weapons launch in a month, South Korea’s military said.

It comes a day after the North threatened to remain America’s biggest threat in protest of US-led sanctions on the country.

The North had been expected to halt weapons tests because the 10-day US-South Korean drills, which it views as an invasion rehearsal, ended earlier this week.

US president Donald Trump downplayed the latest launch.

“Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me. … He likes testing missiles but we never restricted short-range missiles. We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters outside the White House late on Friday night.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launches were made from the North’s north-eastern Hamgyong province on Saturday morning.

They flew about 236 miles at the maximum altitude of 60 miles, the military said.

The Japanese government said the suspected missiles had caused no damage and did not land in Japanese territorial waters.

South Korea North Korea Projectiles
The North had been expected to halt weapons tests because the 10-day US-South Korean drills ended earlier this week (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Council members said South Korea would launch diplomatic efforts to make North Korea return to nuclear talks with the United States, according to the president’s office.

North Korea’s foreign minister said on Friday that his country will try to remain “America’s biggest threat” if the United States continues to confront the North with sanctions.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “poisonous plant of American diplomacy” and vowed to “shutter the absurd dream” that sanctions will force a change in Pyongyang.

Mr Ri’s blistering rhetoric and the projectile launches may dim the prospect for an early resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries.

The top US envoy on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said on Wednesday that Washington was ready to restart the talks, a day after the US-South Korean military drills ended.

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